Four Hertfordshire businesses have secured funding from 'Crowdfund Hertfordshire: Small Business Innovation Fund', aimed at providing support to businesses in the retail, tourism, hospitality and other related sectors most impacted by COVID-19.

Auriel Holidays, The Brewery Tap, Creative Juices Brewing Company, and Save Our Standon (Standon Calling Festival) are the first four organisations to be awarded funding from the countywide scheme.

Between £2,000 and £5,000 in match funding is available for eligible small and micro businesses within the tourism, leisure, hospitality, retail, arts and cultural sectors from the Crowdfund Hertfordshire: Small Business Innovation Fund. The £200,000 Hertfordshire LEP fund is administered by Visit Herts via the Crowdfunder Pay It Forward Platform. Participating businesses are required to raise money for their project through pledges from their community and loyal customers. Once a business secures their target through their Crowdfunder campaign, successful applicants are able to unlock match-funding from Hertfordshire LEP's fund.

Nitin Dahad, Chair, Hertfordshire LEP Enterprise and Innovation Board, said: “Prior to COVID-19, Hertfordshire’s visitor economy had been on a strong growth trajectory, contributing £2 billion to the local economy annually and providing 1 in 10 of all jobs in the county. It is now more important than ever to support our tourism, hospitality and related businesses to adapt, innovate, safeguard jobs, and ultimately increase their resilience to succeed under these tough new circumstances. This fund, part of our wider £3.28m COVID-19 business support package for the county, provides the financial boost our businesses need to do just that.”

The first four businesses to successfully secure match funding are -

Auriel Holidays - Wheathampstead, St Albans:

2by2 Holidays have been creating tailor-made wildlife and cultural holidays to Africa, Latin America and India for nearly 20 years. With ongoing travel restrictions in place, they are launching a new travel agency Auriel Holidays to deliver a range of holidays in the UK and Europe. Auriel Holidays will initially focus on road trips and rail journeys, as well as a range of small group wildlife, walk and rail tours to Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales. The team are also planning to offer island hopping in Scotland, Ireland, the Isles of Scilly and the Channel Islands.

The Brewery Tap - Furneux Pelham, East Herts (pictured above):

Nestled in the heart of Furneux Pelham, the COVID-19 outbreak saw this small, rural pub innovate and adapt quickly, redesigning its dining area to provide customers with a pop-up shop offering fresh produce from a range of local suppliers. Further modifications allowed the business to set up a new online grocery order service with delivery for the elderly and those self-isolating. Two refrigeration units were purchased to help increase the display of produce enabling them to re-open the pub to customers. Thanks to the success of the pop-up, it continues to operate alongside the pub and restaurant.

Creative Juices Brewing Company - Rickmansworth, Three Rivers:

Located in Rickmansworth, Creative Juices Brewing Company Ltd. is a small craft brewery producing high quality beers, which were sold within an on-site taproom. During lockdown, the team at Creative Juices Brewing worked proactively to set up a brand new website and a free local delivery service for customers. Post lockdown the taproom space remained unusable due to social distancing constraints, but funding from Crowdfund Hertfordshire: Small Business Innovation Fund has enabled the business to create an entirely new outside space to operate from instead. This work includes developing a contactless ordering system; a range of modifications to adapt the new outside space for their taproom with hazel hurdle fencing, picnic tables, sun shades, outdoor storage, an electricity supply, CCTV, planters, UK wild flowers and garland lighting; ensuring COVID safety for customers and staff; and planting hops to grow sustainability.

Save our Standon (Standon Calling Festival) - Standon, East Herts:

Standon Calling is an independent music festival launched 15 years ago now catering for up to 17,000. The outbreak of COVID-19 meant the 2020 festival had to be postponed until 2021. The team behind Standon Calling responded by innovating their festival offer to provide experiences such as a VIP treehouse and the opportunity for visitors’ faces to be incorporated in future marketing and promotion.

Creative Juices Brewing Company Ltd. Founder, Ben Janaway said: “We are just one of thousands of businesses in the county who have found themselves muddling their way through uncharted territory thanks to the COVID pandemic and facing the prospect of not being able to reopen our business, even after restrictions started to ease. We heard about the Hertfordshire LEP Innovation Fund and thought this might offer a solution to what was essentially unplanned, but much needed investment.

"The generosity of the Crowdfunder donors just blew us away, and combined with the additional LEP funding, we have been able to innovate as a business, pivot our approach, and open our doors - or at least our garden gate - once more. It’s not an exaggeration to say that we wouldn’t be able to operate without that investment, so whilst the fund has given us a much surer footing, it has also secured jobs for Hertfordshire and secured a valuable resource for the local community. We will remain both humbled and thankful for that support.”

Claire Farley, Founder and Managing Director of 2by2 Holidays, said: “The travel industry has been particularly hard hit by this pandemic, especially as none of us know when it will be safe to travel internationally again. We have had no income for five months – so I was faced with the stark choice of either laying off all my staff and mothballing the business until such time as travel resumes, or find a way of diversifying to keep everyone employed.

“I chose the latter route, assisted by this very creative Crowdfunding Scheme sponsored by Visit Herts & Hertfordshire LEP, for which I owe them a huge vote of thanks. We still have a mountain to climb, but their grant has given us the time to create Auriel Holidays – a new bespoke travel agency focusing on holidays closer to home, both in the UK and Europe. I am pleased to advise that we are already trading and have had several very large bookings in the past few weeks, both for later this year and next year. Watch this space!”

Deirdre Wells, OBE, Chief Executive of Visit Herts said: “Businesses within the hospitality sector have been greatly impacted by COVID-19, but despite these challenges, there has been a great deal of innovation and adaptation among Hertfordshire’s businesses in the last few months. The creativity and forward-thinking demonstrated by the successful applicants to date has been inspiring, and we continue to encourage our local businesses to take advantage of the support available to them through the Crowdfund Hertfordshire: Small Business Innovation Fund.”

Learn more about CrowdFund Hertfordshire: Small Business Innovation Fund.
Learn more about Hertfordshire LEP's £3.28m package of COVID-19 business support measures.