More help for small businesses looking to grow


The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is expanding the criteria for the 2021 Crowdfund Solent programme to help more micro and small businesses as they continue to face challenges or look for opportunities to grow.

SJ Hunt, Deputy Chair of the Solent LEP and Chair of the Solent LEP’s Business Task Force, said: “Following the recent announcement that national restrictions are due to lift further, we are relaunching our Crowdfunder programme for micro and small businesses who may now be looking for help with their plans to grow and start to build business resilience, as well as those still in ‘survival’ mode.

“With different businesses affected in different ways, our Crowdfund Solent programme is an opportunity to help small businesses who continue to face a number of challenges brought about by factors outside of their control, such as the pandemic and new trading arrangements with the EU, and who have had to adapt and evolve at pace in order to survive.”

This is the second year of the Crowdfund Solent programme. In its first year, the programme helped 84 businesses across the region in a range of sectors – businesses vital to the local economy and the local community.

Portsmouth-based drone photography specialist, Solent Sky Services, was one such business, benefitting from £5,000 from Crowdfund Solent.

Founder Mike Woods said: “Unlocking the extra funding from the Solent LEP helped us survive 2020 and the coronavirus lockdowns. The crowdfunding campaign also raised awareness of Solent Sky Services – which will stand us in good stead for the future.”

The BlackBox Theatre Company, one of the South’s leading professional touring companies, benefitted from over £2,500 raised through Crowdfund Solent match-funding.

BlackBox founder, writer and director, Chris Hawley said: “The extra funding boost that we received from the Solent LEP made a huge difference and kept us going through the COVID lockdown. I’m not sure we would still be here without it.”

Crowdfund Solent is open to micro and small businesses in the Solent area who have faced national and international challenges, and are looking for some financial support with a project to help them survive or grow.

Businesses with fewer than 10 (full time equivalent) staff can apply for up to £2,000 and businesses with fewer than 50 (full time equivalent) staff can apply for up to £5,000, contributing up to 50% towards the total project costs. Crowdfund Solent supplements national Government help for businesses, and aims to ensure the Solent economy stays strong.

SJ Hunt continued: “As restrictions ease, there are still businesses yet to open, or those who have opened may be struggling to make the changes needed to get going again. I would urge any small business needing a helping hand right now, wherever they are in their journey during these challenging times, to get in touch.”

Businesses will need to set up a Crowdfund page for their project, apply for the Solent LEP match-funding, and achieve at least 25% of their target from a minimum of 10 unique backers to enable them to receive the Solent LEP match funding pledge.

Applications for funding are open now, online at: Business advice and support is available to all businesses in the Solent area through the Solent LEP Growth Hub, an expert team of business advisers offering free and impartial advice, who can help directly or connect businesses to other local and national contacts.


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