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Seonaid Birkett (left) with SWIG Finance Business Manager, Sarah Osborn



SWIG opens the door to education FACTFILE


ristol’s first franchise of the international Kip McGrath education centres has been made possible thanks

to a £20,000 loan from SWIG Finance, a not- for-profit organisation that has supported more than 2,500 South West businesses over the last 25 years. From September, the Kip McGrath Education

Centre is set to open its doors to six to 16 year- old looking for additional support with Maths and English. The centre is led by Seonaid Birkett, who also

owns the Bristol Language Centre (BLC) where the new venture will be based. For the past 11 years, over 10,000 overseas students, ranging in age from 13 to 74 have studied English at BLC on Portwall Lane in Redcliffe. The launch of the Kip McGrath Education Centre, Bristol Central, means local people will now also be able to benefit from Seonaid’s passion and experience. With classes of up to five and a

programme that is tailored to meet each students’ individual needs, the centre will offer targeted tutoring that can also be accessed online. Speaking of her decision to extend


LOCATION: Lowena House, Glenthorne Court, Truro Business Park, Truro, TR4 9NY

WHAT WE DO: SWIG Finance is a not-for- profit organisation delivering loan finance across the South West region to small and medium sized enterprises which cannot access sufficient funding from the banks.

HISTORY: Since 1996, SWIG have invested £27.2m in over 2,000 SMEs and start- ups, helping to create 3,400 jobs in the South West.

‘Last year,

SWIG Finance provided

funding to nearly 80 Bristol businesses’

her business by purchasing a Kip McGrath franchise, Seonaid said: “Kip McGrath is a really fantastic programme with an excellent reputation all over the world. I am really excited about supporting the Bristol community in a new way and have already had a lot of interest from local parents. “When I first looked at financing this new venture, I wasn’t sure where to turn for help. Securing the loan from SWIG Finance was very straightforward and has given me the funding I need to embark on this exciting new venture.” Fund manager at SWIG Finance, Graham

Mitchell supported Seonaid through her application.

He said: “Last year, SWIG

Finance provided funding to nearly 80 Bristol

businesses and we are keen to hear from other firms in the city who are looking for support – whether then need

£500 or £100,000 to achieve their

growth ambitions. “Seonaid presented an excellent business

case and this is a natural extension of her existing business. “We are delighted to not only be supporting

another business in the city but also helping to launch a centre that will benefit many of Bristol’s young people over the coming years.”

To find out more about SWIG Finance call 01872 223883, email or visit

NAME: Chris Danks POSITION:Digital Marketing Executive E: T: 01275 370865

What does your role at Business West involve? For a lot of the last year I’ve been busy supporting the overhaul of the Business West website. It’s been a lengthy project! But the result is a stylish mobile optimised website, with improved features for members and a great mix of support services, events, guides and blogs. Watch this space!

What were you doing before you worked at Business West? After studying computing at UWE I worked for a small Bristol company that sold collectibles. That’s everything from classic cars to million pound stamps, to coins, autographs and film memorabilia. Following this I flew to Brazil and travelled in South America and North America for almost five months, ending up in New York City, just in time for Christmas!

What is your top tip for anyone starting out in business? Aside from visiting the Business West website! (Sorry…) – I’m pretty passionate about digital analytics, so I’d have to say don’t underestimate the value of measuring and analysing your digital marketing channels.

What are your interests outside work? Tinkering with websites, video games and reading fantasy novels. In winter you’ll find me hurtling down the side of a mountain with two planks attached to my feet.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? I trained as a ski instructor and was close to going down this route before studying computer science and moving to software development. In the end neither were for me, but I certainly learnt a lot along the way!

What is the most unusual business you’ve encountered? My previous employer was pretty unusual. A vial of a President's blood and celebrity hair were just two of the more unusual things for sale.

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016 insight 13

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