Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is working in partnership with Visit Herts and Crowdfunder to provide emergency funding to support local retail, tourism and hospitality businesses impacted by COVID-19.
The Crowdfund Hertfordshire: Small Business Innovation Fund, which launched on 5 May, aims to support small and micro businesses within the tourism, hospitality, retail, arts and cultural sectors. These sectors have been identified by the World Tourism Organisation as being one of the hardest hit of all economic sectors, and in Hertfordshire alone these sectors contribute more than 40,000 jobs and £2.2 billion to the local economy each year.
Hertfordshire LEP has set aside £200,000 to support the scheme by offering grant funding up to a maximum of £5,000 on a pound-for-pound match basis for small and micro businesses able to demonstrate the negative impact of COVID-19 and that they will use the funding to adapt and deliver innovative new ways to continue to reach their customer base and transition into a recover phase post-lockdown.
By quickly delivering revenue funding, Hertfordshire LEP is offering support to struggling businesses and helping them to adapt to the new challenges posed both during and post-lockdown. This in turn will help protect jobs within the area whilst also having a wider impact on the many other businesses affected by the hospitality sector through supply chains.
Administered by Visit Herts, the Crowdfund Hertfordshire: Small Business Innovation Fund will operate through Crowdfunder’s Pay It Forward campaign, which offers businesses a free and simple platform to raise money to help with immediate cash flow and the ability to diversify during these challenging times. Small retail, tourism and hospitality businesses are encouraged to raise money through pledges from their community and loyal customers, keen to rally behind their favourite local businesses. Once a business secures their target through the Crowdfunder campaign, successful applicants will be able to unlock up to £5,000 in match-funding.
Hertfordshire LEP Deputy Chair, Adrian Hawkins said, “Tourism, retail and hospitality sectors are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 crisis and are likely to be locked down for longer than other industries. It is vital that we throw a lifeline to the high levels of small and micro businesses within these sectors. By helping to provide immediate cash flow, we can enable them to diversify and adapt to the new environment post-lockdown and bounce back in the long term.”
Deirdre Wells OBE, Chief Executive of Visit Herts said, “Businesses within the hospitality sector have been greatly impacted by COVID-19 and the new social distancing measures put in place over the last few weeks. Despite these challenges, we have seen a great deal of innovation among Hertfordshire businesses. Bolstered by the new Crowdfund Hertfordshire: Small Business Innovation Fund and support from the local community, it is this creativity and innovation that will help our businesses to remain resilient over the coming months.”