The Cornwall Chamber of Commerce says its finance group continues to play a crucial role in the success of Cornwall’s businesses.

The chamber established the Cornwall Lenders’ Forum 18 months ago after members complained that the banks were refusing to lend despite water-tight business plans being supplied.

It invited the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and other local organisations to attend the meetings.

Initially, the group saw the Duchy’s major banks and lenders meeting together in one room and being held to account by the chamber on behalf of its members, trying to establish where things were going wrong.

Chief executive, Kim Conchie, commented: “Cornwall Lenders’ Forum has been an invaluable tool for identifying where things have been going wrong for businesses wanting to borrow.

“On the face of it, it seemed as though the banks were refusing to lend with very little reason, but feedback from Cornwall Lenders’ Forum has given us the intelligence to be able to work with businesses and other organisations to ensure they tick all the boxes when preparing for an interview with a bank.”

As relationships between banks and SMEs improve, the group now meets with a different focus; to stay up to date with business dynamics in Cornwall so that the region can speak with one voice; hear of any potential issues the chamber’s members might be having, and to keep abreast of the latest alternative lenders operating in the Duchy – like SWIG and Folk2Folk, who the banks can refer businesses to if they themselves cannot lend at that point in time.

Elizabeth Stansfield, senior relationship manager at NatWest, commented: “Cornwall Lenders’ Forum is a valuable resource for banks in Cornwall; the Chamber is our link to the business community and these meetings provide us with useful information about the business environment.

“The Chamber’s input could mean the difference between a business securing funds and not securing funds; at the last meeting I was introduced to alternative lenders like Crowdfunder and Fredericks Foundation who could be able to help a business if I am unable to lend.”