As I’m writing this column, Greece have just voted ‘No’ to the latest round of bail-outs from the EU and the whole of the global financial system looks like it could be about to go into lockdown whilst everyone works out what the implications are.
In Greece, clearly the banks have been rationing access to money for the last week or so, with strict limits on the amount of money depositors can withdraw from their accounts. The danger is that as the fallout of a potential Grexit from the Euro spreads, UK banks will once again hold onto their capital, access to loans and finance for small businesses will be rapidly withdrawn and it will be virtually impossible for hundreds of thousands of small businesses in the UK to expand or develop.
It’s too early to say yet whether the ongoing Greek drama will become a full-blown tragedy, but for local small businesses out there, there are a number of grant and loan funds that you could consider approaching as an alternative to bank finance.
West Sussex County Council have a number of business support programmes, including a funding finder, which helps local businesses identify pots of grant funding that they may be eligible for. A good starting place for exploring which funds might be right for you is the Coast to Capital Business Navigator hub www.c2cbusiness.org.uk.
West Sussex County Council also administers EU funding under the LEADER fund, this is money from the old Common Agricultural budget, which is earmarked to support rural businesses and enterprises, so if you have old farm building that you wish to renovate or re-purpose, or already run a rural tourism business, this could be a good place for you to start.
The fund re-opens in the early autumn, so now is a good time to send your project ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For smaller projects, Chichester District Council have a fast-track grant scheme for applications up to £1,000, which follows a very straightforward process. They also have a specific low-carbon grants for businesses wanting to reduce their emissions.
Details of CDC grants can be found at www.chichester.gov.uk.
There are a number of local trusts which support local businesses by offering small loans at preferential interest rates or small business development grants, including the Dignum Opportunities Trust dignumopportunity.org.uk. If you would like to know more about alternative sources of funding, or need help with a grant application, we have a wealth of experience at Visit Chichester, and are here to support our members.