OxLEP – the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership will support growing social enterprise sector and help businesses getting ready for growth.
OxLEP Business, which supports SMEs in Oxfordshire last night (19 November) announced a new programme for two important parts of Oxfordshire’s economy: social enterprises and growing businesses.
The Escalate programme, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, will provide tailored packages for both type of business. It will help growing businesses to boost productivity and capitalise on opportunities.
The growing number of social enterprises and businesses that are socially-driven businesses, will be assisted to build capacity and widen their opportunities.
“These two parts of the county’s economy are very different, but they are important and can both benefit from this targeted programme." Said Helen Brind, who manages SME support programmes at OxLEP.
Helen added: “What we want to ensure is that both social enterprises and growing businesses can access the type of support which will help them most.”
Each group will have access to tailored one-to-one support, workshops and grants of up to £25,000.
Oxfordshire’s Growing Social Enterprises
According to Grant Hayward of OSEP, which is partnering with OxLEP to help social enterprises, the number of social, community and environmental enterprises offering services and facilities in Oxfordshire has grown significantly.
Grant said: “They are important to our economy and Escalate is helping by providing a network of six community hubs for socially conscious enterprises. These hubs will form a strong and vibrant network among socially-minded businesses in their communities and offer access to our resources.”
Helen Brind added: “We can always do more to support our social enterprises. There is a clear need in Oxfordshire to help them grow and prosper. Our new programme will provide access to a wide range of skills, networks, finance, advice and resources.”
Businesses scaling-up for growth
Growing businesses and those expecting to grow will be supported in preparing to meet their future challenges and opportunities with confidence.
Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive at OxLEP said: “Our other target is to provide a boost to the fast-growing businesses to help them succeed. These scale-up companies can get help accessing finance and other support in a new package aimed at increasing their capacity to grow. These enterprises have the greatest potential to generate employment and wealth, but they experience specific challenges to achieve their potential.”
Oxfordshire has the highest growth rate in the country amongst its scale-up businesses. It also has one of the highest ‘five-year survival rates’ for small businesses anywhere in the UK. At almost 50% (49.3%), Oxfordshire is well ahead of the UK average for businesses reaching their 5th anniversary. It compares with a UK average of 44.1% .
Recognising small business success
The new support programme was announced at an event that also recognised the success of SMEs in the county (see award winners below). Held at Oxford University’s Natural History Museum, it was attended by businesses which had all received help from OxLEP Business over the last three years. In that time, the SME Elevate programme helped 1,037 companies and awarded over £200,000 in small match-funding grants for investment. Several of the businesses received awards for their achievements.
Helen Brind said: “Too often the great ideas, enterprise and sheer hard work that goes into small businesses goes unnoticed. We’ve recognised their value with the these awards. It is inspiring to see the impact which our support for SMEs can make to their chances of success. With our new Escalate programme, we look forward to similar impacts amongst the social enterprises and growing business who’ll participate.”
- Best socially minded business - Generation medics
- Most impactful new product or service - Oxwash
- Social media star - Orange Bakery
- Best new employer - Global CTS Recruitment
- Best use of grant funding - Priory Cast Products Ltd
Pictured: Richard Byard of OxLEP speaking at the event.