Conference aims to help small firms and social enterprises get finance

The Northern Echo: Lucy Winskell, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Business and Engagement at Northumbria University Lucy Winskell, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Business and Engagement at Northumbria University

THE Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in the North East in partnership with the North East Social Enterprise Partnership (NESEP) and Northumbria University are hosting a conference aimed at helping small businesses and social enterprises access finance.

Small businesses in the North-East regularly cite accessing affordable finance as one of the biggest barriers to growing their business. Research from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has shown that almost one third of small businesses still cite obtaining finance as of the biggest challenges they face.

According to research from Social Enterprise UK 39 per cent of social enterprises cited access to finance as the single largest barrier to their growth and sustainability.

The Show Me The Money conference will help small businesses and social enterprises to understand the sources of finance that are available and how to get it. Speakers include HM Treasury, Big Society Capital, Unity Trust Bank and Buzzbnk.

Ted Salmon, North East Regional Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The role of small businesses in the North East can’t be underestimated.

"The 134,000 small businesses we have in the region employ 333,000 people and contribute £24bn to the regional economy.

“Helping small businesses and social enterprises grow will help the recovery of the North-East economy. We know that accessing finance at an affordable cost is one of the biggest barriers our members and social enterprises face. Working in partnership with NESEP and Northumbria University we wanted to show what finance was available and how to get it.

“We’ve got speakers from Community Development Finance Institutions right through to investment and everything in between to show the full range of options available to help small businesses and social enterprises grow. We’re delighted to have attracted HM Treasury and Big Society Capital to give updates on recent announcements on social investment.

“For any small business or social enterprise that is looking for finance we’d urge them to get along to Show Me The Money on December 12 to find out more.”

Karen Wood, chief executive, North East Social Enterprise Partnership , said: “We're delighted to be working together again with the FSB to tackle such an important issue for social enterprises in the North-East. 

"Accessing appropriate financial investment is a fundamental must if social enterprises are to grow and prosper achieving their potential impact on the North-East economy.”

Lucy Winskell, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Business and Engagement at Northumbria University, said: “Northumbria University is acknowledged as being among the very best at supporting start-ups in Sir Andrew Witty’s Review of Universities and Growth, so we recognise the opportunity that securing sustainable funding brings small businesses and social enterprises.

“We are backing this conference because small businesses and social enterprises are vital to the health of our regional economy, and we must do all we can to ensure their ability to grow and flourish is not undermined by a lack of affordable finance.”

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