On Wednesday, 22 January businesses attended a business breakfast meeting with Assembly Members to talk about their experiences of Finance Wales, an investment company for Small to Medium Enterprises, owned by the Welsh Government.
You can see more photos from the event on our flickr site.
All eight members of the Finance Committee met with a range of Welsh businesses which included web app developers, brewing companies, manufacturers and chartered accountants to name a few. The event was held as part of the Committee’s inquiry into Finance Wales:
Participants and Assembly Members split into four separate focus groups, where the following themes were discussed and debated;
– How has the demand for finance by SMEs changed since the credit crunch in 2008?
– Individual experiences of Finance Wales?
– How well does the financial support and advice on offer from Finance Wales compare to other providers like banks?
– What support would businesses like from Finance Wales and Welsh Government in the future?
– How well does Finance Wales promote itself and the range of funding options?
Participants had a wide variety of views and experiences, both positive and negative. The main points that rose at one of the discussion tables included:
– There should be more business advice for start-ups, as well as support in the application process for people with good ideas but limited business expertise;
– The funding from Finance Wales filled a gap in the market as no other funders where willing to finance some businesses.
– Interest rates charged were reasonable for the risks involved
– Finance Wales is an asset to Wales which should not be changed significantly.
– The idea of a Development Bank to help start-ups could be explored further, but alongside Finance Wales and targeted at start-ups.
– Some businesses would not be located in Wales if it were not for Finance Wales.
A note of the discussions from the event will be published here in the next couple of weeks:
Paul Davies, Assembly Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire, and Malcolm Duncan, Managing Director of SuperRod who are based in Torfaen, were both interviewed after the event and had this to say:
The Committee will now be speaking with groups and organisations at the Senedd, before they produce a report outlining recommendations to the Welsh Government.
The next meeting will take place on February 5, where Assembly Members will be talking to Professor Dylan Jones-Evans – Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy at Bristol Business School, University of the West of England;
You can watch this meeting in person at the Senedd, or watch it online at http://www.senedd.tv