Britain misses the blindingly obvious

Three events, which have taken place over the last few days, emphasise the dire thinking which is constipating the true potential of Enterprise Britain. If four million business owners, managers and colleagues were not involved, it would be laughable.

www.startupbritain.org, which features Richard Branson in holiday mood, was launched by David Cameron by announcing that it will not receive any direct government funding (George will be ecstatic). “I am sure it will be a great success” cried the PM. This view was, unfortunately, not shared by wiser heads.

Phil Orford, chief executive of the Forum of Private Business, was quoted in the ‘Mail on Sunday’ as saying that “whether it can provide the support that entrepreneurs need to start and grow a business is questionable.”

Professor Colin Mason of the University of Strathclyde’s Entrepreneurship Centre said the project “will not have a significant impact on the economy.”

The online portal offers individuals preferential deals from around sixty companies (Google, O2, MacDonald etc.) to help launch businesses.

The Summit Series, a US organisation, has attracted the ubiquitous Sir Richard (as above) and Sir Ronald Cohen, who will address an audience of 1,000 entrepreneurs who will board ship in Florida and set sail for three days.

This is a terrific idea. 1,000 starry eyed budding business people each who are paying $3,500 and spending a fortune at the ship’s bars and other entertainments.

Whilst the organisers speak to their Swiss bankers the attendees will be discussing..er..enterprise.

The Business Growth Fund (“BGF”) launches next month with £2.5bn provided by six financial shareholders (not Government).

First the PR. Excellent chairman (Sir Nigel Rudd, on board at Barclays, Pendragon and Pilkington)) and chief executive (Stephen Welton, co-founder of Henderson Ventures). The BSG will provide equity from £2m to £10m. Target companies must have a minimum of £10m t/o and a maximum of £100m.

The devil is in the detail. By the end of the first year there will be 100 employees. There are to be five regional offices. Watch this space. Just like the NHS, it will grow and grow. This will because it is inevitable that the loan recipients will come back and back for more funds requiring more staff. The overhead is a certainty. Bad debts are guaranteed. Where will the fund end up? Watch this space.

So why are these three initiatives evidence of the reality of the present situation.

 Simple: no Government funding, no day-to-day banking (the overdraft is the lifeblood of enterprise) and no junior equity market involvement (AIM and PLUS-quoted).

It is blindingly obvious and nobody seems able to see it.

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