social impact report & annual statement

BEF saves 800 northern jobs in two months

The not-for-profit lender supported SMEs when banks were unable to help.

Not-for-profit finance company, Business Enterprise Fund (BEF) has delivered over £5m to northern businesses in the last two months, saving 800 jobs in the process.

This follows a record year of lending in 2019, in which the company of just 21 employees lent £11m to struggling SMEs that had been declined by banks, adding £44m to the regional economic coffers and saving 384 jobs.

“It’s been a record two months, as we were the first in the country to deliver a CBILS loan to a business - even though we are a small, regional boutique lender - but we did because we have a great team and the will to help businesses in a crisis through the COVID crisis,” says Steve Waud, CEO of BEF.

“We have been working round the clock to help those businesses get the money they need to survive and then ultimately thrive.”

BEF provides finance to help community development, business growth and job creation by providing loans when other lenders can’t fully assist. The company was formed in 2004 and now operates all over Yorkshire and Humberside, the North East, and the North West.

Michael Hoult, co-owner of two year old House of Wine in Leeds, says the loan has helped his business survive and diversify. Having been delivering exclusive wines to restaurants and bars all over the UK before COVID hit, he and his partner adapted and created Doorstep Wine, to deliver different and unique wine products to homeowners in the Leeds area.

Michael explains: “Doorstep Wine has really taken off, as have lots of other local businesses - we were delighted to use our expertise in a different way and the £30,000 funding from BEF helped us take time to adapt and develop that side of the business while the hospitality industry was put on hold. We’re now looking to take someone on to head it up as we reintroduce our ontrade side of the business. The support from the local community has been fantastic and thanks to that and the loan from BEF, we will hopefully go on to thrive.”

BEF Investment manager Matt Wood adds: “House of Wine is a classic example of a business that has quickly adapted and diversified in a way they didn’t plan but has actually worked well. We were delighted to support them and other SMEs as they seek to survive and flourish post-COVID.”

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