City commentator Justin Urquhart-Stewart gave delegates at the first ever Access to Finance event in Croydon an exclusive insight to the state of the world financial markets.the keynote speaker had a positive message for the 100 plus SME's and start-ups who attended the event at Croydon Clocktower, despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the US Presidential election.
He told delegates the British and US economiesare not as broken as thought, and that Britain is still the world's fifth largest economy, eighth largest manufacturer and 10th largest exporter. And when it comes to setting up in business, British – and Croydon - entrepreneurs are well ahead of the competition.
"In the UK we are setting up more businesses than France and Germany because we are much more entrepreneurial here," Mr Urquhart-Stewart told delegates.
"It takes a lot of courage to do that – putting your life and your family's future on the line - but we are doing it in huge numbers, which says a lot about our confidence in the economy."
Organised by White Label on behalf of the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership in partnership with London Borough of Croydon, Access to Finance offered information, seminars and one to one advice on funding opportunities for all types of enterprises from start-ups to established businesses.
Praising the initiative Mr Urquhart-Stewart, co-founder of Seven Investment Management (7IM), which administers over £11billion on behalf of professional wealth managers, said: "I've been impressed by the number and range of different businesses who've come along today – it's not just start-ups asking for help, it's also established businesses looking for advice on growing to the next level."
However Mr Urquhart Stewart, a key mover in the original development of the AIM market, encouraged all the entrepreneurs at the event to ensure they planned their personal finances as carefully as their business finances.
He said: "We need to teach people, particularly the next generation, how to handle money, as well as how to do business."
Malcolm Brabon, Head of Services with Coast to Capital, said he was delighted with the response of delegates and event exhibitors, and that the Local Enterprise Partnership plans to hold other events in future.
He commented: "I have been really happy to sponsor this first event – we've had very good feedback and I think there is definitely potential for future events focusing on international trade, access to skills, access to contracts and angel investors."
The delegates were welcomed to the event by Mr Brabon and Councillor Mark Watson, Cabinet Member for Economy and Jobs, who said Croydon was actively encouraging entrepreneurs in London's fastest growing borough.
Delegate Daryl Samuel, an entrepreneur from Crystal Palace, said he was very happy with the help he received in a One to One advice session with a Coast to Coast Business Navigator.
"Any event like this which aggregates lots of organisations that are trying to help small businesses under one roof, is a great idea," said Mr Samuels, MD of Griditch, which markets a product he developed to teach children computer coding.
The expert-led Seminars and Advice Clinics were run by Coast to Capital Business Navigators, Rangewell, UK Export Finance, Finance South East and URICA. The seminar topics included Financing Export with UKEF; Getting A Grant Application Right led by Coast to Capital; How to Use Finance to Grow Your Business to the Next Level run by leading City financiers Rangewell; Alternative Funding Options to Scale Up your Business run by Sussex Innovation Centre; and a Case Study on Raising Crowd Funding with Hawk Wargames.
The exhibitors featured Barclays, Beta Futures, Business Navigator / Coast to Capital, Croydon Enterprise Loan Fund, Enterprise for London, Finance South East, HSBC, Let's Do Business / Start Up Croydon, NatWest, Newable, Rangewell, Sussex Innovation Centre Croydon, and UK Export Finance.
Anyone who would like further information on business financing should call Access to Finance on: 01403 333840