Inquiry looks to boost entrepreneurship

The issues of unemployment, finance and skills were among the debated subjects at the first session of the Entrepreneurship Inquiry.

In its first session of three, the All Party Parliamentary Small Business Group Entrepreneurship Inquiry brought together the likes of Labour’s Lord Harrison and Conservative MPs Martin Vickers and Fiona Bruce.

The Inquiry’s first meeting tackled why women and mature people are less likely to apply for bank finance and small businesses’ struggles with accessing finance.

John Walker, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, says, ‘We have heard for so long that small businesses cannot access finance from the banks, but for some entrepreneurs even approaching the bank is not an option.

‘While alternative forms of finance need to be promoted, this needs to change and confidence needs to be instilled in all sectors of society so that they know bank finance is a real option.’

The session heard testimonials from groups including from women in business network everywomen, armed services body Heropreneurs and the Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise.

Richard Morris, chief executive of Heropreneurs, adds, ‘We need to think of radical ways to increase the visibility of young businesses.

‘Access to finance is critical for SMEs. People have been lending and borrowing among communities for years. It is much easier to extend an existing concept than come up with a new one from scratch so we should encourage more community led banks and mutuals that serve their communities.’

The discussion found that women and mature entrepreneurs are more likely to view access as a problem and so are less willing to take on that debt. As part of the process the Entrepreneurship Inquiry, the assembled representatives are looking at how this can be improved and ensure everyone feels confident to apply for finance from banks.

Maxine Benson, co-founder of everywoman, says that cost effective skill training, confidence building and access to networks will encourage and enable more women to start and grow businesses.’

Further sessions of the Inquiry will occur on 22 February and 1 March, with evidence gathered from the process released through a report later in 2012.

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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