Drop in for coffee and a business loan with the Croydon Enterprise Fund

By - Friday 29th May, 2015

Would you like a latte with your start-up loan? Keith Miller explains how he mixes business with beverages

John Rodd, finance specialist at CELF, meets a Croydon business owner.
Photo author’s own.

You wouldn’t think of going to your bank for a coffee. But how about going to your favourite coffee house for a loan?

Matthew’s Yard, set in the heart of Croydon, is well known for its great coffee, relaxing atmosphere, arts and entertainment programme and nowadays its artisan burgers. Perhaps less well known is that it’s also a venue for business loans and advice, served up via the Croydon Enterprise Loan Fund. The fund holds ‘drop in’ business clinics there on a regular basis to support entrepreneurs to either start or grow their businesses.

In need of some guidance, it was to Matthew’s Yard that Frances Lamberth recently ventured when she was seeking to raise additional finance to support the growth of her home visiting physiotherapy business. She had tried her own bank but without success and therefore had to seek an alternative way of raising the much needed funds. There, located in a corner of the café, she found me along with my colleague John Rodd of GLE. We’re the team that manages the fund on behalf of Croydon Council, and Frances put her request to us while enjoying a coffee.

Frances had seen a gap in the market

She explained that she’d started her business, Fairhand, in 2008 after thirty years working as a physiotherapist in both the NHS and the private sector. She had seen a gap in the market: most physiotherapy practices do not have the time or resources to make home visits, especially for the elderly. Fairhand provides help, advice and practical treatment for all the problems around walking, mobility and balance for people in their own homes or nursing homes, nursing home residents. This helps restore independence and quality of life, with all clients being offered their own personal physiotherapist who provides one-to-one attention.

Within a couple of weeks she had completed the application process and held a further meeting at Matthew’s Yard where she was to learn that she had been successful in her request.

It’s encouraging and professional – you get to think through your ideas

Frances Lamberth, founder of business start-up Fairhand.
Photo author’s own.

As Frances explained: “It has been very exciting to be granted a business loan from the Croydon Enterprise Loan Fund. This loan has created the next step up for my home visiting physiotherapy service. I have been able to invest in physiotherapy equipment, which has definitely increased the numbers of patients being treated. Additionally I have now taken on a second part-time physiotherapist. The loan has also supported our development of digital patient records, thereby maximising patient confidentiality and staff time efficiency.’

Frances went on to say: “I have found Keith and John to be really encouraging and professional with lots of practical advice. They get you to think through your ideas and, most crucially, actually put them into action. Matthew’s Yard is a modern and convenient café, with good coffee and facilities. It has a friendly atmosphere in which to meet for any business discussion’.

Croydon, with its vibrant economy and exciting times to come, is unique amongst the London boroughs in that it has been operating its own fund to support Croydon-based businesses for over seven years. During this time nearly 250 businesses have received financial support from the Croydon Enterprise Loan Fund and have raised some £2.5m between them.

The ‘drop in’ clinic operates at Matthew’s Yard between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm on the first and third Wednesday of each month and at Weatherill House, on Purley Way, (2 minutes walk from Wandle Park tram stop) on the second and fourth Wednesday.

For further details of the Croydon Enterprise Loan Fund or the ‘drop in’ events, please contact us. Fairhand can be contacted 020 8651 2110 or by .

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Keith Miller

Keith Miller

Keith has lived and worked in Croydon all his life. He has 40 years’ experience in banking and finance, dealing with SMEs and larger businesses. He has a wealth of knowledge and know-how in supporting businesses become finance ready to grow and has over seven years’ experience of sitting on loan panels and making lending decisions

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