Archive for the ‘Volunteer’ Category

How many Angels does it take to change our world?

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Today at 11am, our Chair and Founder is going to receive a welcome cheque for our Gloucestershire operation. This donation is from our good friends at Angels 4 Angels, a well – respected Angel investment company based in the County, who also contributed to us last year.

Donations from individuals and companies are always especially welcome. Why is that? Because they are voluntary donations from people and organisations who understand what we do. They understand that four letter-word – Risk. And many or most successful business people know that risk is an integral part of business success. There are few, if any, well-heeled entrepreneurs who, at some time, have not suffered sleepless nights and chewed finger nails to reach the top of their game. A quick glance at James Dyson’s story illustrate this so clearly. How many of us would have the courage he had in those early years?

Many of our stakeholders think the Government should support our efforts more wholeheartedly; and we often think that ourselves; but Governments can be capricious and find it hard to think and plan in the long-term. And they change. With each new Minister comes a fresh set of values and a different degree of understanding. Like a slightly slower version of speed-dating, relationships are sought and nurtured, just when the bell rings to move on.

One of our ambassadors wrote a few years ago that ‘There is no greater privilege, when you have reached the top floor, than to send the lift down to help the next person.’ There are many business people out there who think and act the same. Although you don’t get much glory for doing so, we say Thank You. And more importantly, so do the hundreds of business starters we will help over the coming years. Angels indeed!

Too small to be noticed. Too important to be ignored.

Friday, June 19th, 2015

That was Napoleon. Rumoured to be 5’2″, his stature was somewhat lower than average. His actual role on the world stage was not diminished in any way by this. He was a giant in French history, thankfully to meet his reckoning at Waterloo. But for the superior allied strategy, Britain might now be under French governance; enjoying 30-hour working weeks, superlative wine and 2-hours for lunch. How we could have suffered.

However, Fredericks plays a similar diminutive role in the nation’s economy. Most of what we achieve is not recognised or appreciated at a national level. Our impact is a mere drop in the ocean of business lending in the UK; a minnow among sharks.

Drill it down to a local, and human level, and we are changing lives every day. Our army of volunteers, our skilled staff, our investors enable Fredericks to equip people to make their dreams a reality. When the world, the banks, the Government, the credit reference companies say ‘no’, and you can’t, you never will, don’t be silly, we delight in saying ‘Yes, we think you can.’

The power of enabling people to start their own business is potent, and drives us to often work exhausting hours and travel endless miles to help people. And our volunteers often do the same for no financial gain.

Our own Waterloo is to be invisible. That is our greatest worry. We need to be more visible on the battlefield for funding, And we cannot do that alone. We would ask everyone who has a relationship with us to shout long and hard about what we achieve; the crucial part we play in the sub-prime lending market, the hope we can give those whose ambitions have been blocked. Tell your friends, your family, your MP, your local authority.

If it is not too much of a stretch, France without their vertically-challenged leader would be a poorer place. The UK economy, without its small band of community funds would be a sadder and less prosperous place. It is time to stand up and say so!

What’s in a name?

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

‘Wouldn’t it be easier,’ we are often asked, ‘if your name told everyone what you do?’ And the second most popular is ”What is so different about what Fredericks do, when there are a number of different ways to get money on-line these days?’

The nation is undergoing something of a house-building boom at the moment, and I can see from my travels that many brown- and green-field sites are being prepared for development up and down the country. In the initial stages of building the foundations and laying the necessary cables and pipes, the sites look a mess. No-one looks round a building site and admires the foundations. This work is not pretty, is largely hidden, but is essential to the future strength and sustainability of the homes and communities that will be built on them.

This is the very work we do with our Clients to prepare them for their future businesses. It’s hard work, largely unnoticed by the outside world, and involves long meetings, detailed scrutinising, email trails a mile long, too much caffeine and a hoard of experienced and wise volunteer guidance along the way. It’s also expensive in time and money. However, what we aim to give our Clients as sure a foundation as possible to give them the best chance of success. Fredericks will never be a box-ticking operation, and thank goodness for that.

If one was leafing through parables then the obvious illustration is the man who built his house upon sand and the one who built his on rock. For storms and tempests, read ‘risk’; for that is an inevitable feature of starting your own business.

So maybe our name does describe quite well what we do, and also the importance of the work we do to give our Clients the surest possible foundation along with the opportunity that our finance and support provide. We look forward to our own business-building boom in 2015.

Big Give update

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

To let you all know what happened last week – thanks to the fantastic support and persistence of some wonderful donors we managed to raise over £141,000! Of that £41,000 came from the Reed Foundation via Big Give. Whether you let us know who you are or whether you preferred to remain anonymous – we thank you! We also promise to use the funds to support some more brilliant clients, whose entrepreneurial spark just requires a small sum to get it launched.

Thank you everyone and thank you Reed Foundation!

The Big Give (Loan)

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

It’s a bit of a problem talking about ‘giving’ and ‘donation’ when everything Fredericks stands for is about lending and paying back. The whole ‘hand up not hand out’ strapline could sound hypocritical in the context of a blog post that is blatantly asking for gifts. The simple message is though that we help people with people and we help people with loans. The money comes back but the people cost money. All those of you who have met our hard-pressed client managers will know how thinly stretched they are. If you give up your time or your resources to support us then we salute you for it. You are fantastic and heroic!

But this week: Thursday, Friday and Saturday (4, 5 and 6 December 2014) at 10am there is an opportunity to make a little money work by turning it into a little more money. The Big Give will lever in additional finance for Fredericks, bringing in a match from Reed Foundation which has generously chosen to support us.

So please set an alert on your phone for 9.58am in time to gather up your battered credit card and click here: http://bit.ly/fredsbiggive

To find out more visit the Reed Foundation – Development and Human Rights page

Making your mark

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

I am often asked: “What sort of businesses do you fund?” To which I never have a satisfactory answer. I often reel off the businesses from my last few panel meetings: surfboard repair; will writing; sandwich shop; furniture removals; car servicing; office rental; glamping – just to demonstrate that they are many and varied. There are some things we don’t fund, such as gambling, the sex trade, firearms and things which might bring the charity into disrepute. But there simply isn’t a helpful answer that says “Pick from this list and we will help you!”

One common red herring for people contemplating setting up their own business is that they need a brilliant and original idea. I am all for brilliant and original ideas, but I’m very comfortable with tried and tested formulas too. I was at a recent event where people were encouraged to stand up and outline their business ideas. There was loads of enthusiasm and cheerleading in the room. But when one man said he wanted to open a simple ordinary cafe this was met with a ‘Surely what you mean is you want to ‘start’ with a simple cafe, and then develop a chain before moving onward to world domination?’ No, I just want to open a friendly cafe with me running it and my wife and son helping.

Fredericks would love to help you to achieve world domination. In fact, when your business idea goes global, we will knock on your door and ask you to help some people just like you used to be. Many a great business started in a garage or kitchen at home and we are always excited by enthusiastic entrepreneurs.

The vast majority of our clients, though, just want to run a simple business that will earn them a living. They would all love that business to grow and become something that they can sell or pass to others. But they are all fairly happy if it can simply support them and their family. That is as real and as brilliant an ambition as you may ever need.

So to return to the original question: the answer is that it is not about the type of business, it is about the type of person. Are you adaptable, flexible, hard-working, resilient, imaginative? Do you listen to advice and share your experiences? Do you accept help? Are you good at what you do? These are the qualities our panels look for in prospective borrowers. you don’t need to conquer the world, just make a mark on your own world.