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New referral scheme to increase access to funding and support

A new pilot scheme which aims to increase the number of Welsh start-ups accessing the funding and support they need to grow has been launched by Economy Minister, Edwina Hart.

Businesses up to two years old that do not meet the requirements for traditional loans and other funding at this stage will now be referred to Business Wales for additional support and advice to improve their chances of securing the funding they need. 

Business Wales provides a range of business support services and works with individuals and businesses to provide them with tailored support.

The pilot scheme, which will initially run for twelve months, has come about as a result of a recommendation from the Access to Finance Review and has been developed by Business Wales, NatWest and Finance Wales.  A new, secure online portal has been introduced to manage the referrals process.

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said: “This pilot scheme takes forward a key recommendation of the Access to Finance Review Professor Dylan Jones Evans conducted for the Welsh Government last year.  I’m pleased that Business Wales, NatWest and Finance Wales have joined forces to come up with the scheme and put in place a streamlined process to manage referrals.  I’m confident that we can help more Welsh start-up businesses to overcome the issues they face and secure the funding they need.”

Kevin Morgan,  NatWest’s Regional Director of Business Banking for Wales, and Mike Owen, Finance Wales’ Group Investment Director joined Mrs Hart at the Life Sciences Hub in Cardiff to launch the scheme and sign a memorandum formalising the commitment of the two key Welsh business funders and Business Wales.

Kevin Morgan of NatWest said: “There are times when an entrepreneur or very young start-up business will not, for some reason, qualify for a bank loan despite showing tremendous promise. NatWest recognises this and we have been determined to assist such businesses to find an alternative solution. This new partnership means that, if a customer or potential customer approaches us for finance and we are not able to help, we will be able to signpost them to Business Wales for further advice and support.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the Welsh economy and it is in everyone's interests to support them as much as possible at every stage of their development. We look forward to this pilot being a great success and hopefully we will see other banks follow our lead in coming on board."

Mike Owen of Finance Wales added: “Starting a business is a busy time and securing the right finance and guidance to achieve your ambitions can really boost your chances of success.  Many new business owners are unfamiliar with applying for business finance and writing a business plan that provides potential funders with the information they need to make a decision.  Finance Wales works with Business Wales, banks and other funders to come up with the right funding packages for Welsh businesses.  This pilot scheme will strengthen these relationships by focusing on helping more start-ups and young companies.  We hope it will enable more of them to secure the loans and other investments they need to grow, create and safeguard jobs and increase their contribution to the Welsh economy.”