Steve Waud, BEF

Business Enterprise Fund has almost doubled its investment in the northern economy over the last 12 months as entrepreneurs have created more businesses during the Covid pandemic.

From April 2020-2021, the independent, not for profit loans provider has invested £70m in the region’s economy – a y/o/y increase of £25m – helping 286 new businesses launch: 52 more than the previous year. 3,524 jobs across the north have been created or safeguarded thanks to its provisions of resource to small businesses, with over a quarter (26%) of the investment going to the construction industry.

CEO Steve Waud comments: “You plan for the worst and hope for the best. Clearly this has been a particularly challenging year but the optimism and creativity of northern SMEs and Startups shows a real resilience and determination.”

BEF provides funding, support and advice for growing businesses across all sectors. Its aim is to deliver flexible finance to businesses in geographical areas that need it most, by providing unsecured business loans when other lenders such as mainstream banks cannot fully assist.

26% of the support over the last 12 months has been to construction companies, 14% to business services, 12% to hospitality, and 11% to healthcare and beauty. Retail, logistics, creative, education and manufacturing organisations have all benefitted from BEF’s investments.

Steve concludes: “BEF is a small specialist lender that looks to support northern communities, disrupting the mainstream finance perspective with its approach to lending. We have been delighted to support young entrepreneurs and SMEs where others could not, knowing the impact of the pandemic on businesses and families throughout the region.”