Please note that this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be deemed to be or used as legal, employment, or health & safety advice. For guidance or advice specific to your business, consult with a qualified professional.
The big smoke has always been a hive of commerce and industry. And as the industrial revolution has given way to technological and commercial evolution, London remains an excellent place to start a business. A veritable mecca for investment and talent from around the world, it is an excellent place to turn business dreams into reality.
However, getting your business idea off the ground can be challenging, especially for new entrepreneurs. Raising funds for a business may feel like a minefield, and in a risk-averse financial climate getting a business loan from a commercial lender can be a frustrating experience. Even if you can find a bank willing to give you a start-up loan, the high-interest rates can bottleneck operating cash flow and impinge on profit margins in the company’s crucial early years.
This doesn’t mean that you should give up on your entrepreneurial ambitions. There are a number of forms of grant assistance available throughout London. Some of these are available to applicants all over the capital while others are specific to its constituent boroughs. Here, we will look at various forms of grant assistance available to entrepreneurs in London, as well as loan options that may be more favourable than those offered by commercial lenders.
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City-wide business start-up grants in London
These are the small business grants in London that are available to companies all over the capital. Favourable loan funding is also included here.
London Co-Investment Fund
The London Co-Investment Fund (LCIF) is co-managed by Funding London and Capital Enterprise, fed by the Mayor of London’s Growing Places Fund. It offers seed capital of £250,000-£1,000,000 and is broadly designed to empower new tech startups and businesses in other high-growth areas.
Better Futures CleanTech Incubator
The Better Futures programme is aimed at cleantech startups. It has a total budget of £1.6 million, although the level of funding for individual businesses is not specified.
As well as funding, the package also provides leadership and management support, access to co-working space and support with supply chain management, and marketing and product development.
The Greater London Investment Fund
While not a grant, the Greater London Investment Fund (GLIF) offers business loans to organisations based in the UK’s capital. Its goal is to help them with startup and expansion costs at terms that may be more favourable than those offered by commercial banks. Businesses may be eligible for between £100,000 and £1 million in funding. Business owners must have a viable business model and demonstrate that they cannot access other private sector finance. This makes it a viable option for entrepreneurs who have no track record or collateral.
Area-specific small business grants in London
Different London boroughs offer their own business grants to support local businesses. Some make funds available for startup businesses while others offer funding to support existing companies. All of the grants featured below are open to applications at the time of writing. However, it is always worth looking at your local borough’s website to find small business grants in the London borough where you live or plan to do business in as these grants are variable.
Barnet Community Innovation Fund
The borough of Barnet has a Community Innovation Fund with a £240,000 budget. This provides grant assistance of between £2,000 and £65,000 to local innovative projects that improve the health and well-being of the community.
Hammersmith & Fulham Fast Track Small Grants
While it does not have a programme of startup grants in London, the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham offers access to small grants to existing enterprises in the voluntary sector that are struggling with the cost of doing business. Organisations can apply for grants of between £100 and £10,000 to help fund one-off events, sessional worker costs, play schemes and classes and rent or running costs for short-term projects.
Hillingdon Enterprise Programme
Hillingdon council has set aside £1.75 million of ARG funding to facilitate the Hillingdon Enterprise Programme and is seeking for applications from businesses in specific sectors such as the green economy, aviation, creative & media and other potentially high-growth areas.
Islington Town Centre Grant Fund
This scheme is designed to restore footfall to the town centres and local shopping parades. It offers a grant of up to £1,000 to independent micro-businesses and SMEs in Islington’s town centres (including Angel) or People-Friendly Streets (PFS) neighbourhoods.
Kensington & Chelsea Small Grants Fund
The Kensington & Chelsea Small Grants Fund affords funding of up to £1,000 for voluntary and community organisations with charitable objectives that meet the borough’s funding priorities.
Organisations must be based in Kensington and Chelsea and primarily benefit residents of the borough. Funds can be spent on equipment, event organisation, marketing, volunteer support or small-scale building.
Richmond Town Centres Opportunities Fund
Richmond Upon Thames Council offers support to businesses in its town centres with a view to improving the trading environment, making local towns more attractive and convenient for visitors, and attracting new investments and filling empty shops.
Support is provided on a ‘match-funding’ basis, meaning that the council provides up to 50% of the total cost of proposed initiatives, matching every pound that businesses are able to raise by themselves.
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