Obtaining Green Funding
Reducing your business’ environmental impact is essential but not easy; here we look at ways for you to get financial assistance to help your small business become a green one
We’ve shared many green tips in the is4profit Green Business section, proving even small steps can make a noticeable difference in reducing environmental impact. Given persistence and time, the effort pays off in financial terms, reducing waste and running costs to make a genuine difference to the bottom line.
But what about larger scale investment? In the current economic climate, putting significant funds into green gains is something difficult to justify when the benefits are more long-term. However, there is help out there, and this article sets out where to start looking.
What sort of funding is available
Certainly, grants and award schemes are more common for SMEs, as they are often focused on business growth. However, don’t expect free cash, most funding is expected to be matched, and there are often many requirements to fulfil to achieve the go-ahead.
Funding is often available for training, but some more general schemes can help with anything from energy efficient equipment purchases to environmental certification.
To be eligible, a solid proposal is vital. You may have to put in a bid, much like tendering for a contract, demonstrating the reasons for your application and your business model. It is vital you do not begin the process without funding, as this suggests that you can in fact afford it without assistance!
Where to look
Government funding has grown rapidly since David Cameron boldly stated he wanted to be part of the ‘greenest government ever’. Unfortunately all funding can’t be found in one place; in fact it is quite diverse and is available at different times. Qualifying criteria can also be quite strict, with some bodies preferring start-ups, others prioritising fast-growing, established businesses.
On a local level, searching your Local Authority website may reveal some energy-saving funding. If your business is in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, be sure to also try Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Welsh Government and Invest Northern Ireland who have all previous history of providing grants.
There is EU funding available for a variety of programmes, some of which are easier to obtain when bidding as part of a consortium. This may mean partnering with a number of small businesses to achieve the aims the funding is intended for.
Meanwhile, government departments such as the Environment Agency, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (more commonly known as Defra) and the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) all have information on grants and funding.
Whilst Business Link has downsized recently, their move to a more online presence has made available funding far easier to find. They have a dedicated ‘Business Support Finder’ so you can search for funding by keyword and location. This useful tool features both local and central government funding opportunities.
Though the initial signs of funding can be found online quite easily, there is no better way to find opportunities than picking up the phone. Particularly with government funding, the various departments are there to help you, and you will surprised what they may find that isn’t yet online to view. Getting to a decision-maker can also make things far easier as you can really emphasise your desire to become a greener business.
This article was written by The British Assessment Bureau, a certification body specialising in ISO 14001, an environmental management standard.