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£7.5m funding package to help SMEs in Yorkshire and the North East

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 the COVID-19 pandemic.

Business & Enterprise Finance Ltd, trading as Business Enterprise Fund, has secured a £7.5m loan from the commercial bank with a social conscience 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, 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 James, relationship manager at Unity Trust Bank said: “Our vision is to help create a better society by working with a range of organisations that share our values.

“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.

“As social enterprises they re-invest profits to deliver economic and social benefits to the communities they serve. 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.

Both Unity Trust Bank and BEF align their operations and practices to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – a globally recognised framework for achieving a better and more sustainable future, and many of the individual goals will be enabled and supported through focus on financial inclusion.

Jason James of Unity Trust Bank said: “The business of Responsible Finance lenders and their clients will contribute to a wide variety of SDGs but, in particular, Unity recognises this as our contribution to Partnerships for the Goals.”

Stephen Waud of BEF said: “We are making great progress against the UN’s SDGs and continuing to embed them within our operating model and educate our wider stakeholders to their importance.”

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