25 delegates interested in creating an alternative finance network in the forest attended our breakfast meeting last Thursday to discuss the next steps to build on the outcomes of the initial alternative finance breakfast held in April.
A wide range of delegates representing local businesses, banks, local authorities and financial service providers were led by FT journalist David Stevenson through the workshop-style event designed to provide the NFBP Board with a clear proposition to create a local alt-fi network.
David set delegates three tasks; firstly to categorize the needs of businesses and organisations along with the alt-fi products they require; secondly to pinpoint the three USPs that the New Forest possessed which made a local network possible; and finally to identify what existing and new structures could be brought together to create an effective alt-fi network for both local investors and borrowers.
Following energetic debates, each table then presented their findings:
- Alt-fi needs/products: Start-up finance (debt/equity), panic money/working capital (3 month-3 year unsecured loans), social enterprise (donations & grants), seasonal bond (autumn funds for pay-back early summer), equity (angel funding).
- New Forest USPs: Lots of existing resident investors, particularly newcomers with high wealth; strong and concise local identity; timeless and well-heeled quality of life where legacy is important; proximity to London; diverse economic sectors with high proportion of local ownership. Boomerang population – return to live locally following success in the wider world.
- Existing structures – Angel networks and peer-to-peer platforms, NFDC, NFBP and LEPs.
New structures – NFBP as conduit/aggregator/signposter; community bank; smaller charities’ champions become investors in local brand businesses. Localised angel network backing local businesses.
In addition to the above it was agreed that local mentoring and Dragon’s Den style appraisal of entrepreneurial/business propositions can play another vital role in developing the vitality and resilience of the local economy.
NFBP’s Board will use the outcome of this event to develop a clear proposition for the creation of a localised alt-fi network to be presented and actioned at its Annual Finance Conference on 14 October at Elmers Court Hotel, Lymington.
If you wish to be kept up-to-date with the alt-fi debate, please register your interest by contacting: firstname.lastname@example.org.