At a specialist small business finance meeting in Penrith in March, Rory Stewart MP launched a new programme aimed at facilitating financial support for local businesses from local investors. Rory arranged the meeting, which brought together representatives of business, the financial sector, the voluntary sector and local government, to highlight the continuing financing difficulties faced by many small businesses, and to discuss some potential approaches to the problem.

Rory has now outlined the provision of a new survey platform – the ‘Cumbria Business Finance Network’ – and online tool that allows potential borrowers and lenders to register their interests in participating in a new ‘Cumbria Business Investment Fund’, which would aim to provide a mechanism for local business investment into local businesses. The feedback from the Business Finance Network will play an important role in guiding the design of the Investment Fund, with the intention of finding the best possible match between unfulfilled financing needs and potential funding sources.

Rory said: “I am very excited to launch this survey tool, bringing us closer to getting down to the detail of small business needs, and matching these to the desires of local investors. The Business Finance Network will play a very important role in helping us to understand the genuine needs of the sorts of businesses that characterise rural Cumbria, and the ways in which the broader local community may be able to play a role in providing support; and I would strongly encourage any small business which has experienced financing difficulties, or any investor with an interest in the local economy, to join in and share their views. Your feedback will be critical to the design of the Business Investment Fund which we are hoping it may be feasible to launch later in the year.”

Further details of the Cumbria Business Finance Network can be found at


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