start up

A Matter of Life and Debt

How Ethical Lending Can Enhance Lives and Communities


Over the past few weeks BBC One has aired a new documentary series – A Matter of Life and Debt -  about ethical lending presenting life-changing stories of creative, determined individuals who couldn’t access mainstream financing for setting up their business and used credit unions and responsible lenders across the country to realise their dreams and improve their livelihood. 

Fredericks Foundation is very excited to be part of this project and present two inspiring business stories that grew from strength to strength and are now thriving within their communities. 

The first episode of the series tells Ella’s story and how she created from her kitchen table Cotswold International Language School, a flourishing language school with students from all over the world. 


 A few years ago, Ella Cservenka decided to take the language classes she was holding in her kitchen to more suitable premises and create a more structured environment for her growing number of students eager to join her English classes. 

She tried to access the necessary funds from high street banks, but she was refused. 

“When applying for a loan, the high street banks told me that my business was not viable and couldn’t offer me the money I needed. Such negative answers can be a massive blow to your confidence and really damaging,” says Ella. 

With the first loan from Fredericks Foundation Ella was able to rent small premises and get a website and a brochure for her business.

“Having someone believing in you and your dream gives you a real boost and makes you want to succeed because you don’t want to let them down. Fredericks’s mentoring services were also a great support for my business and helped me grow it in a sustainable manner,” adds Ella.

As the business grew and Cotswold International Language School started to attract an increasing number of students who wanted to experience the British culture Ella decided to expand her business further and went back to Fredericks for a second loan. 

With the new loan Ella was able to get bigger premises and accreditation from the British Council.

From teaching five people around her kitchen table, now, Ella hosts up to 150 students at a time and strives to grow her business further every day. 

You can see Ella’s story and how she achieved her dreams while helping her community to grow and interact with cultures from across the globe on YouTube.

“It is amazing and inspiring to see people as talented, passionate and committed as Ella realising their dreams and improving their local communities,” says Duncan Parker, CEO of Fredericks Foundation. “It is vital we support dynamic and innovative people to get their business off the ground. It’s an immense satisfaction for us to support these people to realise their dreams and become a source of wealth and fulfilment for their communities.”

Another episode in the series features Plane Industries – the story of Harry and Ben Tucker, two brothers who dreamt of using their imagination and passion for creating bespoke furniture pieces made of reclaimed, authentic aircraft parts.

Ben & Harry

They had an excellent credit report and an innovative business proposition, but banks would not lend them the necessary funds due to their young age. 

When refused by mainstream lenders the Tucker brothers looked into alternative finance options and Fredericks lent them £9,500 to buy some tools and go to a trade show. The event was a success and Plane Industries generated orders of about £5,000 on the back of it. 

“It’s a really nice feeling to realise that Fredericks has given us close to £10,000 because they believed in what we are doing. Everyone was encouraging and told us that our idea was really good, interesting and quirky and could be really big.”

Every month Harry and Ben would meet with Fredericks’s mentors who helped them diversify their business and develop new products. 

To be able to develop the new products, Plane Industries got a new £10,000 loan from Fredericks. Besides furniture, the brothers are successfully selling desk accessories and bags and luggage. 

As the business grew Plane Industries employed five people and reported an annual turnover of over £280,000. 

You can learn more about Harry’s and Ben’s story and how they created a highly successful business on YouTube

 “There are many people with great business ideas that are struggling to get finance on the high street - every year traditional banks reject about £4 billion of loan applications from people wanting to start new businesses. This situation, sometimes, leaves many vulnerable to illegal loan sharks. Thankfully, there are several community finance initiatives like Fredericks that can provide a helping hand and support to get off the ground,” says Paul Barry-Walsh, founder Fredericks Foundation. “It's very exciting to be able to support something that is completely unique. Otherwise we’d get no beauty or innovation,” 

Have you dreamt of starting your own business but you can’t get finance from mainstream banks? Or maybe your current business needs a cash inflow to grow further? Check out our website and learn what you need to do to qualify for a Fredericks loan.