Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is to provide emergency funding to support local retail, tourism and hospitality businesses impacted by COVID-19, working in partnership with Visit Herts and Crowdfunder. This is one of three schemes that together form a £3.28m package of measures being put in place by Hertfordshire LEP to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. 

Crowdfund Hertfordshire: Small Business Innovation Fund, which is launching on 5th May, will support small and micro businesses within the tourism, leisure, hospitality, retail, arts and cultural sectors. Initial research conducted by the World Tourism Organisation indicates this sector has been one of the hardest hit of all economic sectors, with international tourism expected to fall by 20-30% in 2020. In Hertfordshire alone, the sector contributes more than 40,000 jobs and £2.2 billion to the local economy each year.

Hertfordshire LEP has set aside £200k to support the scheme, by offering grant funding up to a max of £5,000 on a £1 for £1 match basis. By quickly delivering revenue funding, Hertfordshire LEP is offering support to struggling businesses, helping them to adapt to the number of new challenges posed both during and post-lockdown. This,
in turn, will help protect jobs within the area, while also having a wider impact on the many other businesses affected by the hospitality sector through supply chains.

Administered by Visit Herts, Crowdfund Hertfordshire: Small Business Innovation Fund will operate through Crowdfunder’s Pay It Forward campaign, which offers businesses a free and simple platform to raise money to help with immediate cash flow and the ability to diversify during these challenging times.

Small retail, tourism and hospitality businesses will be encouraged to raise money through pledges from their community and loyal customers, keen to rally behind their favourite local businesses. Once a business secures their target through the Crowdfunder campaign, successful applicants will be able to unlock up to £5,000 in match funding from the Crowdfund Hertfordshire: Small Business Innovation Fund.

Successful micro and small businesses will be able to demonstrate they have been negatively impacted by COVID-19, and will need to use the funding to adapt and deliver innovative new ways to continue to reach their customer base and transition into a recovery phase post-lockdown. 

Hertfordshire LEP Deputy Chair Adrian Hawkins said: “Tourism, retail and hospitality sectors are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 crisis and are likely to be locked down for longer than other industries. It is vital that we throw a lifeline to the high levels of small and micro businesses within these sectors. By helping to provide immediate cash flow, we can enable them to diversify and adapt to the new environment post lockdown and bounce back in the long term.”

Deirdre Wells, OBE, Chief Executive of Visit Herts said: “Businesses within the hospitality sector have been greatly impacted by COVID-19 and the new social-distancing measures put in place over the last few weeks. Despite these challenges, we have seen a great deal of innovation among Hertfordshire’s businesses. Bolstered by the new Crowdfund Hertfordshire: Small Business Innovation Fund, and support from the local community, it is this creativity and innovation that will help our businesses to remain resilient over the coming months.”

Download the guidance for applicants Learn more on the Visit Herts website Apply for the fund via Crowdfunder

Hertfordshire LEP Covid-19 Business Support Package

Crowdfund Hertfordshire: Small Business Innovation Fund is part of a £3.28m package of measures being put in place by Hertfordshire LEP to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19. This includes: 

Hertfordshire Business Expansion Grant Scheme: open to all SMEs (subject to eligibility for receipt of ERDF funds). Grants for capital expenditure will range from £10k - £100k and will require a minimum £1 for £1 match and the creation of at least one new job. Hertfordshire Growth Hub will manage enquiries and make referrals to the LEP and its programme partner Finance South East for grant consideration.

Volunteer Business Support Scheme: this Hertfordshire Growth Hub branded service will be established and managed by the University of Hertfordshire and will provide additional advice and support from business mentors to firms adversely affected by COVID-19. Up to 50 volunteers would each offer their expertise to up to four businesses, providing support to around 200 businesses in total over a six month period. Express your interest in becoming a volunteer.