Lockdown project launched with Back Her Business programme by Joy Roxborough

No matter how barren any situation may be, there is always the possibility that something fruitful can emerge from it. This is depicted in the Bible many times, and it was certainly my experience in the midst of lockdown late last year when, quite unexpectedly, I was presented with the opportunity to launch a business crowdfunding campaign through the NatWest ‘Back Her Business’ programme.

The idea was to raise a specified percentage of the funds required for your designated project, with a specified number of supporters, within a specified number of days, and NatWest would match the amount. I thought, What have I got to lose? I’ll give it a try.

So I set about putting my proposal together in a bid to raise the £4,000 needed to pay for an illustrator for a children’s picture book manuscript that had been languishing in my files for a couple of years. I thought I might just raise the £2,000, and then NatWest would donate the other £2,000. I wasn’t even fully conversant with the precise terms and conditions of how to access the NatWest contribution, but I thought I should at least make a start.

It took some doing to get the promotional video together, which involved getting several children to record parts of a script, and then asking a friend to put them altogether. While this was being done, I busied myself contacting friends, relatives, acquaintances… every single person I had ever said Hi to – even if it was a trillion years ago! – asking whether they would contribute, and could they get ready to do so as soon as the project went live in order to build momentum. They promised they would, and I wrote their names down because I wasn’t about to let them forget!

Then came the first bit of negative news: the crowdfunding programme had been oversubscribed, and therefore NatWest would be unable to make any contribution to the effort. That was a  That was a ‘disappointing setback’ It meant rather than needing to raise £2,000, I would need to raise the entire £4,000 myself. And I only had 28 days to do it…

Nevertheless, I pressed on. Thanks to all those who participated, the video was finally completed, and the campaign went live on my birthday, October 13.  I pressed the button. I sat… and I waited. I was super excited when the first pledge rolled in, and it was from someone who I hadn’t even asked! Over the next few weeks, my NatWest Crowdfunder page became my new phone, in that it was the page I refreshed – sometimes even in the middle of the night – to check whether any new pledges had been made. It became like a game.

It warmed my heart to read the encouraging comments from my contributors, and to watch the progress bar slowly inching across the scale. However, it soon became clear that it was moving just a tad too slowly. It came down to just five days left to meet the target, and I had only achieved a little above 50% of the amount required. The pledges continued to roll in, but I knew that unless a miracle happened, it was all going to be too little, too late.

And then, quite unexpectedly, the miracle did happen. About two days before the deadline, NatWest emailed me to say they had accessed some extra funding, which they were inviting me to apply for, because they had been watching my campaign progress and wanted to assist me to meet the goal! Following an online interview, I saw the bar suddenly fly to almost the other end of the scale.

Needless to say, the remaining amount was effortlessly donated. The target was met, and my lockdown picture book project, I Wish I Were a Bird, was birthed. Quite out of the blue. I have long wanted to publish a picture book, and am simply amazed that it was finally happening at a time I would have considered less than ideal to even contemplate starting. It reminds me of the words found in Isaiah 43:19 -“ I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

No one knows how this wilderness-like coronavirus situation is going to turn out, or how long the multiple lockdowns and any number of associated evils are going to continue. But one thing is certain: positive things can still be birthed in the midst of it. So, may I encourage you to keep hope alive; to pursue your dreams, and to shelve any thoughts of waiting for the pandemic to be over before you start living again. Now is the moment to fully live!

To see project details, visit the NatWest ‘Back Her Business’ webpage and, under the ‘Explore’ tab, search for Roxborough Publishing.

Facebook: @RoxboroughPublishing

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