Former World Bank lead economist to become next chair of alternative regional lender SWIG Finance

January 6, 2021

Malachy McReynolds, the chair of regional alternative finance lender SWIG Finance, is to step down in March after five years in the role. He will be replaced by Christine Allison, a former lead economist for the World Bank, who has been a non-executive director of SWIG Finance for the past three-and-a-half years.

During that time she has played an active role in supporting SWIG’s growth across the South West. 

Prior to joining SWIG in 2015, Malachy McReynolds, pictured, led the management buyout of Bristol chocolate maker Elizabeth Shaw, followed by its sale six years later to Icelandic company Noi Sirius in 2006. He remained managing director until 2012.

He was CBI South West regional chair between 2006 and 2008 – a role in which he became known as a strident voice for business – and was also a member of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) board until 2015.

As well as serving as president of both the UK and the European trade bodies for the confectionery and biscuit industry, he was also chief executive of Bristol-based not-for-profit organisation WE Care & Repair.

He said: “I am delighted that Christine is to succeed me at SWIG Finance. In my stint as chair, we have created a successful organisation, lending from its own balance sheet to businesses across the South West who have found it impossible to source funding from traditional finance providers.

“Our ‘socially inclusive’ approach has seen us lend nearly 40% of our total to female-led businesses and enabled us to concentrate on lending to entrepreneurs in the most economically deprived neighbourhoods in the South West.

“I have been delighted to work with Christine over the last three years in her non-executive director role at SWIG and know that she is exactly the right person to lead the organisation during its next phase of growth.” 

Christine, pictured, has been involved with finance for much of her working life, having spent many years working internationally, including 20 years with the Washington DC-based World Bank and, more recently, on access to finance at both national and local levels in the UK.

She said it was a great privilege to be appointed as SWIG Finance’s next chair.

“I am excited to be working alongside SWIG colleagues and South West partners to support local SMEs with the right kind of finance, and to help the regional economy recover and grow,” she said.

Christine, who attended Harvard Business School, has a long track record of supporting and advising social entrepreneurs. She has been a member of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s task group on responsible credit and an advisor to the Parliamentary Treasury Committee.

The extensive search for SWIG Finance’s new chair was led and managed by Vanessa Moon, founding director of Bristol-based Moon Executive Search.

She said: “This was a great campaign and there was a huge amount of traction in the business and finance community, with sound support for SWIG Finance.

“I was so impressed with the amount of interest shown in the roles and keenness of candidates and I am delighted with the end result.”

As the South West’s leading community development financial institution SWIG Finance provides loans from £500 to £25,000 to start-ups in the region and from £10,000 to £250,000 to SMEs that cannot access sufficient support from their bank.

For more information visit Start Up Loans – SWIG Finance: Business Loans for the South West or Business Loans for the South West – SWIG Finance: Business Loans for the South West


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