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FW Capital - an alternative catalyst for growth; JOANNE PRATT, FW Capital's fund manager in the North East, explains why she believes alternative funders can offer small and medium-sized businesses a valuable source of long-term growth funding.

THE North East team at FW Capital can ease the headache of funding for smaller businesses, helping them to access finance for the long term.

The national company's regional workforce has the in-depth experience and expertise to put together the right finance package to aid growth for local business in any sector - enabling companies to create or safeguard hundreds of jobs.

Joanne Pratt, FW Capital's fund manager in the North East, said: "When FW Capital opened its first office in the North East in 2010 to manage the North East Growth Plus Fund, times were tough and many businesses were doing well to keep their heads above water.

"At the time, FW Capital was one of the few funders in the region offering established small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) an alternative funding source and we saw a good selection of potential investment opportunities from the types of businesses the fund was set up to back."

FW Capital |invested PSNortheast Created |safeguarded than 1,200 On |businesses current report in turnover around 30% " Today's funding landscape is very different, Joanne believes, with more alternative funders now providing established SMEs with much-needed funding that complements mainstrea finance. She also believes they're here to stay, which means choosing the right source of finance for your business needs is vitally important.

"With numerous alternative funders each offering something different, choosing the right funder is a crucial decision. At FW Capital we encourage businesses to think carefully about the funding they need, as well as the provider they choose.

has 23m in 45 businesses or more jobs "Making the right choice can play a critical part in their long-term success and could alleviate problems raising funds in the future."

in its portfolio of " In 2013, FW Capital won another contract to manage the Tees Valley Catalyst Fund, a fund set up to help businesses win new contracts by providing them with short-term loan funding for performance and warranty bonds. Originall set up by Tees Valley Unlimited to assist Tees Valley-based businesses, this fund is now open to businesses across the whole of the North East.

With an experienced team of investment executives based at its offices in Newcastle and Billingham, FW Capital supports businesses throughout the region by providing finance to facilitate their growth and its collaborative approach ensures that SMEs get a funding package that is right for them now as well as in the long term, be that debt, mezzanine or equity finance.

Joanne explained: "Businesses grow in many different ways and we can now offer short and long-term funding options to ensure they successfully maximise their potential. We also work closely with other funders to come up with the right finance package.

"My team has forged close relationships with the businesses we invest in and their advisers, as well as other funders."

FW Capital has so far made loans and other investments of more than PS23m to 45 established businesses in the North East with the funding being used for a variety of purposes including property or equipment deposits, working capital to fund growth into new markets, development of new products, staff recruitment and to take on new contracts. Joanne believes that FW Capital's collaborative and flexible approach has resulted in some real success stories: "On average, businesses in our current portfolio have seen their turnover increase by 30%*. Others have repaid our investments and attracted further growth funding from new investors.

"When we assess an investment application, we're looking for a strong management team as well as robust financials and a credible business plan.

"We're focused on the future viability, long-term success and economic impact of the businesses we invest in and we believe that businesses can best achieve this with a well-structured finance package."

Funding is available to support businesses in the North East with short and long-term investment packages from the North East Growth Plus and Tees Valley Catalyst Funds. Joanne and her team are keen to talk to regional businesses about their growth plans.

* This is an analysis of FW Capital's current portfolio one year following investment.

FW Capital has |invested PS23m in 45 North East businesses Created or |safeguarded more than 1,200 jobs On average |businesses in its current portfolio report increases in turnover of around 30%
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 15, 2015
Words:711
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