Government leaders, representatives from the alternative finance sector and the founders of high-growth companies in the West Midlands region discussed the state of play for smaller businesses in the Midlands and their views on improving access to finance at an event hosted by the British Business Bank last month at The Custard Factory, Birmingham.
Spotlighting the variety of traditional and innovative routes to success for high-potential UK firms, the agenda focused on the future of small business finance with a broad range of speakers including Pat Hanlon, Board Member, Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, Ian Willetts, Project Manager, Outreach, Innovate Birmingham and Gavin Petken, Regional Director, Business Growth Fund.
We spoke to Keith Morgan, CEO of the British Business Bank to find out how businesses across the region could benefit: ‘Over 3,000 business across the Midlands are currently supported via our network of 80 partners. We support small businesses at all stages of development, relative to the size of business and type of finance they qualify for’.
He added: ‘That building relationships with businesses in the early stages is key, understanding their strategy and objectives, in some circumstances placing an expert or mentor into the business. There has been a move from transactional based lending, to relationship based lending’.
He added do not dismiss the High Street bank – if they cannot assist your business, then you may be referred to another lender or finance option. However some lenders will share the risk with the bank via the government Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme.
The goal of the British Business Bank is to change the structure of finance market for smaller businesses so that these markets work more effectively and dynamically to help businesses prosper and build economic activity in the UK.
The British Business Bank does not provide funding directly to smaller businesses, but works in conjunction with private sector partners to enable businesses access more finance, from a greater number of providers, through a wider range of products.
If you are looking to demystify the lending solutions that are available and learn more about how to access funding, it is worth taking a look through The Business Finance Guide, published by the British Business Bank.