£7.5m funding boost for North East SMEs

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A multi-million pound funding package from Unity Trust Bank is enabling a not-for-profit social enterprise to support more than 150 businesses during pandemic.

Business & Enterprise Finance Ltd, trading as Business Enterprise Fund, has secured a £7.5m loan to help SMEs in York and across the North East.

The finance for BEF – an accredited lender of the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme – will be used to provide average loan sizes of £45,000.

Stephen Waud
Waud: unprecedented challenges

Stephen Waud, chief executive at BEF, said: “The coronavirus outbreak presents unprecedented challenges to public health and SME businesses.

We appreciate that business owners may be concerned about the impact on their businesses and would like to work with them through these unsettling circumstances.

It’s times like this when our mission to support businesses and the communities they serve counts the most. 

We have been a customer of Unity Trust Bank for seven years and their support has always been invaluable, but now more so than ever. This funding package will make a real difference to business owners at this difficult time.

Jason Jamesrelationship manager at Unity Trust Bank said: “We support Responsible Finance lenders like BEF so they can deliver responsible, affordable lending to help small businesses which struggle to access finance from mainstream providers.

“These are unprecedented times and we are pleased that this significant funding package will help BEF to support the Government’s CBILS programme.”

Founded in Bradford 15 years ago, BEF began lending to small businesses in the area to help them grow and thrive when other lenders couldn’t fully assist.

Over the past 15 years BEF has grown across the North East, North West, Yorkshire, Humberside and Lincolnshire and lent to a wide range of businesses, from sole traders and start-ups through to established multi-site companies.

In 2018/19, BEF lent more than £7m to 331 clients, providing 3,000 hours of business support and adding £31m to the local economy, helping to create or safeguard 820 jobs.