Birmingham Science Park Aston
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The banks are still lending and there are plenty of other sources of finance available to businesses in the West Midlands region, yet they are simply not applying for the finance that will support their growth – and the economic recovery. These are the rather surprising facts that emerged at an over-subscribed Access to Finance Seminar held at Birmingham Science Park Aston today [5th April].
Speaking at the event, Steve Walker, Chief Executive of ART, said: “Demand for finance has halved since the credit crunch. It seems that small businesses in particular are afraid of debt and of talking to the banks in case they are unsupportive. Yet the Government is relying on the start up and growth of small businesses to fuel the economic recovery - and assuming they will apply for finance as they did before the recession.”
Paul Heaven, Chief Executive of Blue Sky Corporate Finance, told delegates that the way in which finance is offered has changed, saying: “The key theme which has emerged from today is that a blend of financial products is the way forward now. We recently had a case where a bank, even after equity support, couldn’t get comfortable with a client’s full funding requirement. There was a £25K shortfall. ART was happy to lend that amount, so we were able to arrange a finance package.”
Delegates heard that other sources of finance available to businesses in the region included equity and angel finance, factoring and discount invoicing, leasing and asset or stock management, loan schemes for specialist purposes, sectors or size of business and grants. Whilst many of the smaller grants have disappeared, there are still some around, particularly larger ones which businesses can get specialist help to access.
The clear message to businesses in the region is that they should not hold back from seeking out finance. It may be more expensive, and it is more likely to be a package from a number of sources, but there is money available right now to support them.