The Access to Finance programme has delivered real results for businesses across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly according to an independent evaluation of its services.
The programme, which has been providing SMEs with impartial support on all aspects of business finance for the last six years, received high praise for the excellent value for money and impact it has achieved.
The programme, which was designed and delivered by Oxford Innovation Advice, was established in 2017 to address some of the main barriers to growth experienced by SMEs such as accessing finance and limited financial management skills. Since then, the programme has supported over 2,800 businesses across the county, helping local businesses raise over £39 million from over 110 different finance providers.
The report carried out by the company Wavehill found that 94% of businesses surveyed felt the programme had been useful, while 92% reported that their barrier to accessing finance was lower or no longer impacted their business since receiving support. The evaluation concluded that the programme had helped 63% of businesses accelerate their growth, increased employment by an estimated 955 jobs (full-time equivalent) and improved the financial skills of business owners.
Project director, Andrew Finley, said: “We are proud of our work and the positive impact we are making to the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The excellent feedback we receive from businesses and partners year on year is testament to our achievements.
“In the last six years, we have helped local SMEs raise over £39 million, but most importantly we have helped business owners develop the skills and knowledge they need to implement good financial management to help ensure their future success.
“As businesses are exposed to a tightening economy, they face multiple pressures from inflation, supply chain challenges and reduced consumer spending, it is now more important than ever that businesses have access to high-quality business support services and specialist expertise to help them achieve their growth potential. This in turn will enhance the local economy, job opportunities and the prosperity of our local communities.”
The Access to Finance programme is fully funded by the European Regional Development Fund, which comes to an end in June 2023.