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Rhiwbina business receives loan to help expansion

Rhiwbina business Cwtsh Bach has received a £10,000 loan from Robert Owen Community Banking Fund (ROCBF) to help towards expanding its business.

The 60-month loan will enable Cwtsh to purchase capital equipment to improve the production process and raise product quality, efficiency and vastly expand its range.

As part of a government-funded ‘Start-up Loans’ scheme,  ROCBF is offering financial help to new and young businesses across Wales.

Cwtsh Bach was founded by Michael and Andrea Hughes in 2013 following a traumatic family situation, which led to the family having to relocate to Cardiff.  Jacob, the couple’s son, suffered a heart attack caused by a blood clot shortly after he was born.  After spending seven months in hospital – over five months in intensive care and a further number of weeks in a cardiac unit – he was released on condition his treatment was continued in Cardiff, a secondary cardiac centre.  Relocating from Pembrokeshire to Cardiff meant that self-employment was the best option, providing the couple with the flexibility to continue to care for Jacob and his older sister, Ella, while enabling Michael and Andrea to still pursue a career and develop professionally.

Hughes family

A business that started out as a temporary solution to a difficult situation has developed into something far more tangible.  Michael Hughes explains:  “We have the aspiration, passion and confidence in our business and its products, and these are the driving factors which will help us deliver our goals.”

Cwtsh Bach manufactures and sells handmade and bespoke Welsh-language products, which promote the culture of Wales. All products are made from UK-sourced materials and high-quality ingredients, and are distributed via its shop in Beulah Road, Rhiwbina, its online store and directly to resellers, via an in-house agent. The company now sells to 120 businesses throughout Wales and plans to partner with other like-minded local makers and crafters to promote their services. It has also secured a contract to supply Welsh Holiday Cottages with soaps.

One of the business’ core ranges is its novelty soap bars, which feature messages – for example Welsh language phrases and names – but can also be made-to-order through a bespoke service.   The funding from ROCBF has enabled Cwtsh Bach to work with the innovation team at Cerebra, an organisation attached to the Swansea Metropolitan University, to develop a new range of soap moulds.  Cerebra is an unique charity set up to help improve the lives of children with brain-related conditions, through design and innovation of everyday items.

Cwtsh Bach supports and engenders creative thinking and the ethos of making things from scratch. In addition to manufacturing its range of goods, the company plans to deliver workshops and ‘experience days’ to the general public. These classes will demonstrate to people how to make soap, bath bombs and other handmade cosmetics, using ingredients that can be purchased from Cwtsh.

Cwtsh Bach received the funding in August.  Commented Michael Hughes, “The funding is a vital part of our ongoing development and expansion. The injection of money enables us to concentrate on what we’re best at – being creative and making products people can enjoy – without having quite the same pressure on our finances. Currently people are consciously buying goods manufactured in the UK and Cwtsh Bach aims to capitalise on this growing trend as much as it can.”

ROCBF has a strong record of lending locally to a wide range of Welsh businesses and it is a Community Development Finance Institution. It is a not-for-profit company, working to build better communities based on investments in businesses and households.

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