“Accessing funds was critical for us to continue on our journey,” says Peter. But raising investment was a new step for Peter and his team: “This opportunity was a first for us.”
After discussions with social investor CAF Venturesome, SWIM was referred to the Reach Fund, which supports small social enterprises and charities in England to prepare for social investment. A grant from the Reach Fund meant that SWIM could take on a consultant to help it to become investment ready.
Peter knew Eastside People from a previous project, and they were a perfect choice for this project. “Eastside People understands the space in which we work, our concerns and the relationships with the organisations we are connected to. They also have the experience needed to help clients meet the stringent good governance, due diligence and data requirements made by funding organisations such as CAF Venturesome,” he says.
Eastside People’s role was to develop a financial forecast to demonstrate that SWIM could support a loan, and that its ambitions for growth were realistic. Additionally, social investors require investees to have strong governance, so SWIM’s structure was reviewed.
“We didn’t know the kind of information, the quality of information and the depth of information that would suffice,” says Peter. “Eastside People’s previous experience took out the angst from our perspective and brought simplicity to the process.”
He adds: “We are a relatively young, but growing organisation. The experience of working with Eastside People and CAF Venturesome has given us a greater understanding of the importance of strong governance and financial transparency to help us attract new contracts and funding.”
Peter also highlights Eastside People’s commitment to the project. “They had a real belief and a desire to make this happen. They were fast and very supportive, and easy to work with,” he says.
As a result, in summer 2022 SWIM was awarded its biggest funding injection to date: £110,000. This blended finance package from CAF Venturesome was made up of a £77,000 loan and £33,000 grant.
This investment has launched SWIM into its next phase of expansion. Peter has recruited new members of staff, including a business development manager, finance manager and frontline staff.
“The most significant part of this is the creation of more business,” says Peter. “We have been successful in winning bids in other boroughs and with new partners and there are more bids going in.”
Peter is already planning SWIM’s next steps. With the support of Eastside People, he is seeking more social finance to back a housing project.
“SWIM is doing amazing work,” says Eastside People’s Jo Simpson. “I hope this first investment will be a real accelerator.”
Peter has big ambitions for SWIM. “I’ve always felt compelled to give back what was given to me,” he says. “I need to see more people of colour achieve recovery.”