Swoop CEO, Andrea Reynolds, will attend the fifth annual Rural Business Awards, which will be held on 27 February in Manchester. The event is an occasion to celebrate our rural industries and the achievements of businesses that operate in the British countryside and contribute to economic growth. Nearly a quarter of all the UK’s registered businesses are in rural or coastal areas, and so play an invaluable role in the overall national economy, but many of them struggle to find finance.
Look beyond banks
While finding finance is a problem for SMEs across all sectors and industries, rural businesses often find it particularly challenging to secure funds. Rural areas have a proportionately higher number of SMEs than urban areas, creating a regional imbalance and a funding gap, and they are often underserved by banks – a fact accentuated by the closure of many rural branches.
Banks tightened lending after the financial crisis and remain cautious and selective today. SMEs in London and the South East – particularly those with high growth potential – are likely to be better served, while those in rural regions are less well understood by traditional lenders and must often work harder to attract investment. This challenge is compounded by other obstacles facing rural businesses, such as thin labour supply, poor broadband and mobile connectivity, and limited transport links and networking opportunities.
Focus on regional strengths
Despite these hurdles, there is no doubt that rural businesses are a vital part of the economy – and more especially now, because Brexit means we must foster home-grown talent and enterprise across all regions and industries. Our rural businesses offer diversity and innovation, and we must encourage this strength by providing the right finance for growth. Apart from traditional agricultural activities, there is wealth of business potential in tourism, leisure pursuits, arts and crafts, and many other creative initiatives with a rural focus.
This was underlined by Greg Clark, who was then secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, who said: “Some of the biggest economic opportunities are in the rural parts of the United Kingdom, and I welcome the contribution of many rural representative groups to the development of our industrial strategy.”
How Swoop can help
Although there is no need for rural businesses to rely on banks for finance, they are being held back by low levels of awareness about the options available in today’s growing and versatile marketplace for alternative finance.
This is where Swoop comes in. Swoop provides transparency and direction, and can match rural businesses with a wide variety of lenders who can meet their precise requirements. Whether it’s funding for a startup or a business looking to scale, Swoop explores the entire funding landscape to identify the right financial partner and path for your business. It does this across the length and breadth of the UK, covering all regions and all businesses, and has just strengthened its regional presence with a new office in Birmingham. Visit us at swoopfunding.com.
Swoop congratulates all the nominees in this year’s Rural Business Awards and is committed to help businesses of all types find the finance they need to prosper and grow.