Midlands firms need more funding advice, survey finds

Chief Executive, Greg Carter

SMEs in the Midlands could benefit from more guidance on the funding options available to them, a new survey of more than 1,000 businesses has found.

Responses to a survey on exports and alternative finance, which was commissioned by alternative finance provider Growth Street, suggest that relatively few SMEs in the region are exporting outside the UK at all.

Working capital can be vital for SMEs wanting to export, but only 25% of Midlands respondents say that they have a good understanding of the finance that might be available outside the banks.

Although banks have restricted some forms of business lending since the recession, 70% of respondents said they’d never considered looking for finance anywhere other than their bank.

To help improve the ease with which Midlands businesses can access finance, Growth Street has brought on board Richard Steele as Business Development Manager for the region.

Growth Street CEO Greg Carter said: “Many businesses we speak to say that banks have made it harder for them to access really flexible, tailored finance. With so many businesses having never looked outside their bank for funding, it’s clear there is more for finance providers to do to boost businesses’ understanding of the finance options available to them.

“With the Brexit process ongoing, I believe exports will be crucial for businesses looking to grow in the coming years. Liam Fox, Secretary for State of International Trade, has said the UK is ‘unlikely’ to meet its ambitious export target, despite fantastic global growth in recent years. I am optimistic that SMEs can help the UK achieve this target.

“In light of this, we see that businesses in the Midlands and beyond need more guidance on how to start exporting. I want SMEs to feel more comfortable looking outside their bank for funding: we now have a thriving, competitive alternative finance market in the UK. In light of this, I’m excited to welcome Richard Steele to Growth Street – I hope he will help us reach out to Midlands businesses who may feel underserved and misunderstood by traditional lenders.

“There is huge untapped potential for SMEs in the Midlands. I hope that as the UK renegotiates its trading relationships in the coming months and years, banks and other finance providers can help these ambitious, growing businesses to take advantage of new opportunities.”