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Social enterprise boosts North East economy

A social enterprise which lends money to start-up companies has boosted the regional economies of the North East and West Yorkshire by £39m in the last 12 months.

According to its 2017 – 2018 Social Impact Report, the Business Enterprise Fund (BEF) has also helped create or safeguard 985 jobs and helped launch 179 new businesses across the region.

As a microfinance fund manager for the Northern Investment Powerhouse Fund (NPIF) and delivery partner to the Start Up Loans Company, BEF has loaned £8.8m in 12 months and provided 4,000 hours of support to business owners.

‘We work very hard for the businesses and communities we serve so I’m incredibly proud of this year’s social impact report; particularly that 34% of loans issued have been to businesses in our regions’ lower-layer super output areas (LSOAs),’ said chief executive, Steve Waud.

‘These funds are going to businesses and entrepreneurs who need it most and wouldn’t be able to access responsible finance elsewhere.’

The BEF, which has offices in Bradford, Leeds, York, Goole and Teesside, has also used the report to outline plans to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), which highlights objectives such as promoting inclusive and sustainable growth, reduce inequalities and make human settlements safe, resilient and sustainable.

‘We work in some of the most disadvantaged communities in the North of England and we’re aiming for a 5% year-on-year increase of our lending to those communities by 2022. Alongside funding, the BEF team is so passionate about hands-on support and ongoing mentoring to help start-ups and SMEs reach their own goals,’ added Mr Waud.

In the last 12 months, BEF has continued lending to businesses in line with its own social impact goals including the founders of Trackit Lights, an interactive behavioural management system for use in schools which has already seen a 50% reduction in low-level behaviour in one school.

The lender also supported, financially and through ongoing mentoring, the recent launch of Spark:York, a community project in York creating retail and food space from unused, derelict shipping containers.

Tom McKenzie, co-founder and director of Spark:York said: ‘The funding and ongoing support we’ve had from BEF made a huge difference to our new community hub as well as the wider area; one local pub reported its best sales month ever after our launch!’

The Business Enterprise Fund’s Social Impact Report can be downloaded here.

Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart

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