10 minutes with Lucy Womack, Chair of Trustees, Sir Thomas White Loan Charity (STWLC)
The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity (STWLC) is a supporter of the festival in 2022. They provide unique loans to new and existing business owners across Leicestershire and Rutland. Their services include personal loans for business development, postgraduate education and generous nine-year loan terms.
Find out more about Chair of Trustees, Lucy Womack...
1. Biggest stereotype / myth / misinformation about your business sector you want to put straight?
We lend money interest free. People look for the catch but there isn’t one! We also have a longer payback period than most lenders. Borrowing money is scary, but under pressure and with interest to pay, it’s scarier. New businesses can borrow up to £20K, only start to pay that £20K back after three years, and then have six years to do it – nine years in total. We are a Leicestershire and Rutland Charity - not global corporate lenders. Our Trustees are local business people, who know the area well, champion it and want the best for those who live there.
2. Proudest achievement?
I am the first woman to be Chair of STWLC in 500 years! Perhaps this will bring a new perspective, but I always remember that I am following in the footsteps of generous individuals who gave their time and energies to the Charity. My aim is to ensure its continuing development and importance.
3. What’s inspiring you in the world of business right now?
Leicester is now being seen as a very entrepreneurial city – but I feel I have known this for years. We interview everyone who applies for a loan and I am continually inspired by their passion and vision to start up or develop a business. It is in many ways a difficult time to take the plunge and start up something new, but we see time and again that people can be successful and identify an opportunity in which their talents and drive can flourish. Last year, over three quarters of our applicants were successful – a reflection of the business brilliance on our doorstep. All I would say to any ambitious 18-44 year old in the county is – come and talk to us!
4. Best piece of career advice you’ve received?
The best piece of advice I have ever received is to sleep on the big decisions. So often the next morning will provide a clarity of thought that may not have been there previously when weighing up lots of demands and dilemmas.
5. How do you define success for your business?
We define success in terms of the number of interest free business loans that we are able to lend to young people (aged 18- under 45) in our area. We weigh up whether we feel the business is viable and has good prospects for each individual borrower, as it is important that we are responsible lenders. But our success is measured by increasing the number of loans made, and making sure that our offer is known about by as many people as possible.
1. 5 things you’d take to a desert island?
Porridge (no better way to start the day), factor 30 (becoming so much more careful about this as I get older), pen and paper (so I could make lists – there is nothing like crossing things off a list when they are done), a Kindle (imagine all that time to read books guilt-free as you wait to be rescued), and a really comfy bed (hope this is allowed – I need a good night’s sleep and am a much nicer person if I have 7 good hours before I wake up).
2. Best way you relax when not at work?
I play golf and find this a great stress buster. I used to play tennis (until a knee accident) but the benefit is the same – hitting something very hard is good for your mental health and any worries tend to disappear when concentrating on a match.
3. One app you can’t be without?
Spotify – for old and new music and podcasts. My 18 year-old-self, running out of batteries on my precious Walkman, would never believe that I could carry round not only every record I had ever owned, but everything in HMV and beyond in my back pocket and would be astounded!
4. Guilty pleasure?
Box-set binging! We are currently working through Ozark (a bit later than everyone else) and the temptation for just one more episode is sometimes too strong.
5. If you could only listen to one song on repeat for the rest of your life, which would it be?
Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen. I love the story and the imagery throughout this song, and most importantly I can imagine Bruce up on stage belting it out to thousands of people hanging on his every word.