A social enterprise has added £64m of value to the regional economy following an investment of £16m in local businesses.

The Business Enterprise Fund (BEF), headquartered in Bradford and with offices across Yorkshire, Humber and the Tees Valley, has launched its latest social impact report which reveals it has helped create 396 UK businesses and generate or safeguard 1,885 jobs in the regions between 2022 and 2023, as well as adding six new investment managers to its roster.

Specialising in providing flexible finance to businesses who need it most - and those who have a positive impact on their community - BEF is a delivery partner for the government’s Start Up Loans Programme and, alongside Finance For Enterprise, delivers the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund’s Microfinance Loans via the British Business Bank.

The social impact report also reveals that 66% of lending was to businesses within the most deprived areas of the UK while 490 loans were issued within the lowest 35% of LSOAs (Lower Layer Super Output Areas) in the Index of Multiples Deprivation.

Business services, retail, hospitality and construction were the industries which received the most investment, with retail and hospitality demonstrating growth of 58% and 21% respectively when compared to 2020-21, while £4.4m was invested in businesses run by young entrepreneurs (aged 18 – 35) and £5.7m invested in women led businesses.

Speaking of this year’s report and the team growth, Stephen Waud, CEO of BEF, comments: “As a social enterprise it’s imperative our work leaves behind a positive impact; we want to change communities for the better through innovative use of finance.

“We’re incredibly proud to have invested £16m in businesses across the North – to have helped launch exciting new businesses and future-proof those who are already doing good in their communities. The impact of £64m to the regional economy is huge and a testament to our dedicated team who immerse themselves in clients’ businesses to help drive them forward.”

BEF is also celebrating a raft of new appointments with Antony Nicholson joining the North East team as investment manager while Grant Williamson joins as associate investment manager. The Humber team is further bolstered by Duane Walker, Gillian Pickard and Jane Cusse with the individuals working across BEF and Start Up Loans, alongside Abbey Bickerdyke who has joined the team as Start Up Loan Administrator and is based at the company’s head office in Little Germany, Bradford.

Stephen adds: “Our report demonstrates the increasing need to provide responsible, flexible finance to businesses who aren’t receiving the help they deserve elsewhere. By growing our team of passionate investment managers, we’re strengthening our position in areas where we’re needed most to help budding entrepreneurs and well-established businesses alike.”

Over the last 11 years BEF has invested £108m in lending, adding £392.4m of value to the regional economy.