I would like to draw your attention to this here voluntary initiative:
James Corbett blogs here and is currently championing a bloody good idea. Group investing a small amount so there is not a huge amount of risk per investment, but gives a small business an injection of cash that is much needed - a mere €5,000 to help them on their way. James is gathering 100 people together who are each giving €50- to a business...
Now I don't know any of the details yet but not only is it a fun idea but it is a worthy one. Think of it as charity, think of it as gambling, think of it as chambling or gambity for all I care, I've signed up for it and I love the idea of helping out worthy businesses who have a good idea but are struggling to fund getting the idea to market.
Many of the financial supports that are already out there - from small business loans (ahem, hello bankers) to First Step to the County/City Enterprise Boards to the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance are already helping many fledgling business out, cashwise. A few of them require matching funding. Most people have a bit of savings or can raise a little capital from friends, family and fools - but wouldn't an extra €5k really help the cashflow situation?
So many times a business will apply for funding and only ask for the minimum so that they don't take on more than they can pay back. An extra bit of cash is sometimes all they need to patch each source of finance to the next, in a long line of varied supports.
I commend the chaps over here who spurned the discussion, and brought about this little initiative of James' - let's hope it's not a "little" initiative for too long.
PS. I hope it's open to all sorts of businesses. A lot has been done for start-ups already, I'd love to be involved in keeping something afloat with a new business idea in an existing business... A business that is reinventing itself in the new economy...
**EDIT** I now have a blog to link to about this!