Tag: Business Enterprise Fund

TECH START-UP SET TO BE GLOBAL GRAND SLAM

A Leeds-based digital community and performance app for amateur tennis players is preparing for launch thanks to the guidance and support the founders received from AD:VENTURE, the ERDF funded programme supporting start-ups and scale ups throughout the Leeds City Region.

Founded by Cameron Almas and Jake Fox, WeTennis provides the sporting community with a platform that connects players together and allows them to track and display their performance stats against other enthusiasts.

Recognising that tennis players were being underserved by digital propositions, the founders developed a platform that uses match data to deliver advanced analytics and smart matchmaking allowing players to have a unique digital experience, accompanying their passion for the sport.

Understanding the importance of being surrounded by people with valuable experience and expertise, Cameron and Jake approached AD:VENTURE and were connected with professional Business Engagement Manager, Deborah Hetherington.

Jake comments: “I’m from a commercial background and Cameron’s past experience includes tennis retail, but as first-time founders of a business we needed to be connected with the right people to help validate the demand for WeTennis and also access support that could help us to make it happen.

“Deborah was an incredible help. Not only was she very informative and easily accessible, she also had access to a very diverse network of professionals. She connected us with Leeds Beckett University lecturer, Paul Rhodes, who acted as a mentor in the early days of WeTennis and helped us shape the value proposition and route-to-market strategy.”

Jake and Cameron also attended a one-day event in Halifax facilitated by AD:VENTURE, which was a “knowledge sprint” workshop offering a detailed insight into different areas of business, from product development, marketing and securing funds to name a few.

Along with the mentoring support, WeTennis also benefited from the work carried out by a team of students from Leeds Beckett University. The student team worked with WeTennis over a three-month period, conducting consumer market research in order to validate the demand for the product.

Jake comments: “The event in Halifax, which I saw as a ‘knowledge sprint’, showed us how to secure funding, market our product and the process of product development. Following this, the next step was to test and develop the WeTennis prototype.

“Once again, through Paul, a team of students from Leeds Beckett University collaborated with us for a three-month period, adding invaluable insight in how to tweak and change the app in preparation for its launch.”

Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, comments: “As well as accelerating the growth of established businesses across the Leeds City Region, the AD:VENTURE programme also helps empower budding entrepreneurs that are taking their first steps into launching brand new ventures.

“The Leeds City Region is becoming one of the UK’s leading hotspots for innovative, tech start-ups and WeTennis is no exception. Both Jake and Cameron are bringing to market an extremely exciting and unique offering, which is why the support, advice and guidance from AD:VENTURE has been so crucial.

“With such a diverse economy, it is great to know there is a programme in place that can offer expert support to start-ups and scale ups that helps them to grow and flourish.”

Following the early support received from AD:VENTURE, WeTennis built a well-rounded business plan which then helped secure £40,000 funding from the Business Enterprise Fund. This funding has been used to build the first version of the WeTennis app and the company has now established partnerships with clubs and universities in the UK and USA.

With the ability to record games, track and display performance analytics and interact with other players, WeTennis is aiming to become sports newest global digital community.

Find out more information about the WeTennis app here: https://wetennis.app/. To find out about the practical and funding support that can be accessed through AD:VENTURE please visit: www.ad-venture.org.uk.

£31m added to regional economy thanks to social enterprise

A Yorkshire-based social enterprise has announced it has boosted the region’s economy by £31m in the last 12 months as well increased lending to female entrepreneurs by 9%.

 

The Business Enterprise Fund (BEF), has made the announcement as part of its annual social impact report which also reveals the not-for-profit organisation has loaned a total of £7.08m in the last year, helped to create 175 new UK businesses and generated or safeguarded 820 jobs.

 

Specialising in responsible and flexible finance to businesses making an impact in their communities, 36% of BEF’s loans in the last 12 months were to female-led businesses across West and North Yorkshire and the North East.

 

Steve Waud, chief executive at BEF which is celebrating its 15th anniversary later this year, said: “At BEF we remain dedicated in our role to supporting under-represented yet tenacious SMEs across the North, who don’t necessarily have the same level of investment available to their counterparts in the South.

 

“We are proud that 36% of our loans in the year have been to female entrepreneurs which is higher than the industry average and we’re continuing to promote the support available to help tackle the evident funding gap, which has also recently been highlighted in the Alison Rose Review. The economic impact our lending continues to generate is something we are hugely proud of at BEF.”

 

BEF has made 331 client deals in the last 12 months with the highest number of loans being made to businesses in the manufacturing (25%), business services (18%) and retail (17%) sectors.

 

Shainy Moscovitch and her husband co-founded CP12 Energy, a gas and heating specialist partnering gas safe engineers with domestic and commercial jobs. A £50,000 loan from BEF contributed to creating three new jobs, marketing activity and fitting free carbon dioxide detectors across the North East region.

 

She said: “Most would think the odds are against me. I am a female entrepreneur and I am currently writing this with my one-month old baby beside me. BEF looked past all that and saw the company that I am passionately building. It is their belief in me and CP12 Energy that has given us wings to grow and expand.”

 

Steve said: “As part of our commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), we continuously aim to empower people from all backgrounds in starting their own businesses with our tailored support and flexible finance solutions.

 

“This year 40% of our lending has been within lower-layer super output areas which is a 6% increase from last year. These individual businesses are in areas which can be excluded from mainstream funding but are often having the highest impact within their communities.”

 

BEF has hired five new employees this year in a bid to provide further support and finance to business owners across the North of England, including the North West. Further to its lending, the social enterprise has supported a range of good causes including its continued work with Bradford charity, One In A Million for which it raised more than £7k in the last year.

 

The Business Enterprise Fund has offices in Leeds, Bradford, Goole and Teesside. For more information please visit www.befund.org

UK Accolade for Business Enterprise Fund from International Foundation

Business Enterprise Fund (BEF), which provides finance and support for new and existing businesses in Yorkshire and the North East, has been given the UK top accolade for its economic and social impact from an international foundation.

Its work has been recognised for making an “enormous contribution to economic growth and the social and environmental vibrancy of the communities it serves,” and for its demonstrable performance towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Part of the West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, BEF supports SMEs and social enterprises and lent £8.8m to 399 clients in 2018, helping launch 179 new businesses, creating or safeguarding 985 UK jobs. This was delivered alongside 4,000 hours of tailored business support and brought £39m of economic benefit to the regional economy.

BEF’s focus on measuring, demonstrating and improving its impact, including showing how its performance contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, impressed the judges in the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards, funded by the Citi Foundation. BEF was named the winner of the “Impact Award” at a national ceremony this week.

The Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards, funded by the Citi Foundation, are the annual celebration of Britain’s microentrepreneurs that have accessed “responsible” business finance – and the providers, like BEF, which work with them.

Responsible Finance providers are a crucial part of the UK’s financial sector and the leading financial institutions offering affordable finance to many small and micro enterprises, and social enterprises.

Stephen Waud, Chief Executive of BEF, said:

“I’m thrilled that BEF’s work supporting businesses and social enterprises in the North of England, particularly in disadvantaged areas within North and West Yorkshire, Humberside and the North East has been recognised.

“Measuring and reporting on our impact has been a key area of focus in the last 12 months and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) align naturally with our ethos as a responsible lender with a social purpose.

“We have set out clear and measurable targets for supporting and increasing our contribution to the UNSDGs and will report annually on progress. Reporting and demonstrating our impact has also enabled BEF to develop relationships and new funding streams, helping to enhance our credentials in the social investment arena. This prestigious accolade is a testament to the work of our team – we’re absolutely delighted.”

Responsible finance providers across the UK, including BEF, lent £85 million to over 5,000 businesses in 2018, and 84% of business customers supported by responsible finance providers were previously turned down by a bank.

Launched in 2005, (and in 2013 in the UK), the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards were established by the Citi Foundation to recognise best-in-class microentrepreneurs and celebrate the responsible finance sector and their contribution to national economies.

The Citi Foundation is committed to supporting and celebrating the responsible finance sector, as well as youth entrepreneurs through its Pathways to Progress initiative that is tackling youth unemployment globally.

“The Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards are a celebration of the enterprises and local businesses which are the backbone of our communities. They also recognise the important role responsible finance providers play in supporting the entrepreneurship ecosystem, which enables many microenterprises to grow and scale their businesses,” said Bob Annibale, Global Director, Citi Inclusive Finance and Community Development.

“This year’s Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals agenda. Business Enterprise Fund makes an enormous contribution to economic growth and the social and environmental vibrancy of the communities it serves.”

BEF’s accolade is one of just 8 national awards, with recognition given to 4 businesses supported by responsible finance providers, and to 4 providers. One of the microenterprises receiving an award, Spark:York, is also a BEF client: this hub of affordable space for retailers and food businesses in York, created from upcycled shipping containers, was launched thanks to a £190k loan and business mentoring support from the Business Enterprise Fund. It has attracted 500,000 visitors in its first 10 months – and has a £1.8m turnover – and its founders Tom McKenzie and Sam Leach were named the UK’s “young entrepreneurs of the year” in the same awards.

 

Photo: L to R Awards compere, radio presenter Leanne Campbell, Stephen Waud (BEF), Lee Vickers (BEF), Simon Jackson (BEF), Nicolas Kendall (BEF), Amal Gomersall (Citi), Jennifer Tankard (Responsible Finance)

Leeds entrepreneur builds sustainable future for 3D printing

SME grant

3D printing is a fast-growing disruptive technology. From humble beginnings as a novelty demonstration tool 3D printing has become a growing player in the manufacturing world, as the technology to utilise it becomes faster and more efficient than ever before.

Leeds Entrepreneur of the Year Ravi Toor is all too aware of this. Having graduated with a BA in Environment and Business and Leeds University he saw a need for change in the market, which relies on plastic ‘filaments’ to build models and products.

“There’s a clear environmental need for recycled filament” Ravi said.

90% of all plastics worldwide are derived from non-recyclable sources, so in response to this Ravi founded Filamentive.

Using recycled polymers, the business has quickly gained traction in producing environmentally friendly filaments for the industry.

“I want to transform the 3D printing industry” said Ravi.

“The technology is brilliant, but now it can be sustainable too.”

Ravi approached the AD:Venture business support programme to help him set up his business. AD:Venture Advisor Rebekah Smith supported Ravi with writing a business plan and cash flow forecast, as well as steering him to digital marketing advice for the start-up business.

AD:Venture partner the Business Enterprise Fund (BEF) then followed, by delivering start-up funding to boost Filamentive’s stock capacity.

“The business support has been invaluable; not only are we growing, but we’re also improving the sustainability of 3D printing at the same time.” Said Ravi.

“Over the last year’s trading, while I was still finishing my degree, we achieved £50,000 revenue and we’re aiming for six figures in the next 12 months.”

Julie Micklethwaite, BEF Start Up Loans Manager, delivered the funding for Ravi.

“Filamentive is a fantastic example of how to find a gap in a very innovative market. The Start Up Loan we provided has been put to great use, and I’m delighted to see the business thrive.” She said.

Filamentive has since secured a trade deal with Amazon, opening the market to customers in the USA, including schools and manufacturing businesses such as NOA Brands – the world’s largest producer of mannequins.

 

Entrepreneur ups his game with loan

Start-up loan

A 22-year-old businessman is expanding his gaming controller modification business following a £30,000 start-up loan from the Business Enterprise Fund (BEF).