Each time we go to an Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce event, we see leaflets to sign up to the Isle of Wight lottery. We signed up for £1 a week with a chance to win some cash, but more importantly, support the fantastic scheme that helps Island employment.
The IW Lottery has been supporting the Island economy since 2001 and has created and supported hundreds of jobs in the local economy, providing almost £700,000 of interest free loans to Island businesses. It’s the first lottery in England to be developed specifically to create employment opportunities. This got us thinking about growth and employment. We were at a point where we needed to employ new staff, but had the fear of possible cashflow issues.
We first approached the Chamber about a lottery loan in November 2018. We spoke with Emma Spinelli who sent us the initial form to fill out, then we liaised with Sharon Whiten – the head of Finance at the Chamber of Commerce. Sharon was brilliant with answering questions back and forth and it took us a few weeks to fill out the paperwork, create an in-depth business plan and submit our application. This time gave us a chance to reflect on current growth and also the future and really project where we plan to be in 3-5 years.
As part of our plan we required larger offices to hold more staff. We discussed this with our landlord Christopher Scott and it just happened to be great timing as the large, creek view office at Wootton was just about to become available. We built this into our loan submission as a space that will future-proof the growth of Brightbulb for years to come as well as be a really creative space for our employees and clients.
After the submission we were invited to the chamber office to sit in front of a panel of very friendly chamber directors. It was lovely to meet with them and discuss the business and get their thoughts on what we were doing and the plans going forward. They gave us the seal of approval and by April 2019, we had been told we were successful and would be eligible to receive a loan for the requested amount of £20,000. This amount supports us in taking on 2 new full time employees and the move into our new larger office.
We would highly recommend applying for a lottery loan if you are looking to grow. It is not just reserved for the start-up businesses of the world but also there to support growing, established businesses who want to continue to build on previous success. The Lottery Loan is interest free over a 3 year period which allows us plenty of time to repay in monthly instalments and we can avoid the interest rate we would have if we had approached a bank for a similar loan.
Criteria for the loans are that it must be creating a job and the amount of the loan is up to 50% of the total project’s cost with a minimum of £2,000 and a maximum of £25,000 available.