CAIN Magazine Launch

The Creative Arts Investment Network (CAIN) has launched a new quarterly magazine for the creative arts sector. The first edition has a lot of content aimed at investors, but if you are an arts-based company seeking funding then it’s well worth a look. Reading about the issues that matter to investors can help you ensure that you’re doing everything you can to make your proposition attractive. Plus, the magazine will help you to keep up-to-date with the current trends in creative arts funding – knowledge of these will give potential investors in your business confidence that you’re aware of current important issues.

You can also read some of CAIN’s success stories. We love reading funding success stories! Not only can you learn a lot from them but also they act as a reminder that you can get funding, even when the economic climate seems to be against you.

Great advice from The Equity Kicker

If you don’t already read Nic Brisbourne’s Equity Kicker blog, you should definitely take a look now. His weekly post series “50 Questions“ outlines the fifty questions you should ask yourself before raising finance from a venture capital firm – and gives some great advice along the way. Today’s question is “What is the best way to approach a VC?“. It’s an incredibly important thing to consider. If you don’t give it sufficient thought, you could severely decrease your chances of securing funding before you’ve even got your foot through the door… in fact, you won’t get your foot through the door if you don’t give it sufficient thought! So, take a look at Brisbourne’s words of wisdom now and give yourself a fighting chance.

Fund in Leeds makes a comeback

In the world of music, comebacks are in vogue. In the slightly less glamourous world of business funding, though, it’s rather less usual to see a fund “reform”, particularly in the current economic climate. So, you can imagine our surprise on reading that Business Growth Fund in Leeds has risen again. The fund, which has been closed following the end of the Leeds Local Enterprise Growth Initiative, offers grants of up to £10k to help businesses buy capital equipment and make alterations to land or premises.

Interested? Well, as is common for grant funding there are some conditions to meet: for example, the scheme requires the expansion plans of the company to be linked to local recruitment, particularly of the unemployed or young people. Undoubtedly, this will prevent some businesses from applying, but given it’s a grant it does seem reasonable that the fund is looking to get something positive from their investment. And whatever the specifics, it’s just nice to see some grant funding appearing not disappearing for once!

Enterprise Finance Guarantee hits new low

A UK bank has claimed that The Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG), the Government scheme designed to assist lending to SMEs, has hit a new low with the amount of loans offered in the first quarter of 2011 falling to ‘just’ £92m. Of course, to most of us £92m sounds like quite a lot of money (that’s a lot of shoes…), but the figure represents a decrease of over £10m compared to the lending figures for the previous quarter – or, to put it another way, hundreds or even thousands of businesses missing out on funding.

The EFG should be a great source of money for small and medium businesses that have insufficient or no security with which to secure a normal commercial loan. Essentially, the Government provides a guarantee to the lender (a bank) for 75% of the loan value, making the lender more confident about providing money to businesses that they would otherwise consider to be too risky. Individual companies can apply for between £1k and £1m, with the Government stating that over £2b may be provided by the scheme over the next four years. That’s all good in theory, but only if the money is actually lent!

So should we be gathering torches and pitchforks at this latest news? Well, perhaps not quite yet. Firstly, the Government are putting more pressure on lenders to hand out their money, with banks being threatened with extra taxes if they don’t start hitting their lending targets. Secondly, it was announced in November that Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) – basically a form of lending organisation that specialises in helping people that are unable to get finance from the banks – are going to be able to access the EFG, effectively removing the banks from the process all-together for some SMEs. Let’s hope that moves like these lead to an uptick in the lending amounts in the near future.

London Business Angels announce new £420k Fund

With the BBC busy filming the forthcoming series of Dragons’ Den, many of you will be prompted to think about how you might find a dragon of your own. Aside from applying for the next series of Dragons’ Den (your five minutes of fame could await!) the best bet is to approach a business angel network.

Business angel networks put in front of a large number of investors and, in many cases, will help you to prepare your pitch too. But London Business Angels can go even further than this, offering you access to a new co-investment fund that could bring an additional £100k of investment into your business. It’s a bit like a funding equivalent of BOGOF!

Anthony Clarke, Managing Director of the London Business Angels (oh, and Chair of the British Business Angels Association too), said: “We look forward to receiving new deals from innovating SMEs seeking to take advantage of this additional funding potential”. So, if it’s fortune you’re interested in but without the additional fame then it might be worth checking out. But be warned – they receive up to 1000 business plans a year, of which only 40 to 50 are likely to presented to their investors. Not quite as straightforward as picking up a free deal in the supermarket then but certainly potentially more rewarding!