A new mentoring scheme set up by the UK's major banks will provide knowledge and advice on various business areas to SMEs
Small businesses will soon have access to a new mentoring scheme introduced by a consortium of banks.
The scheme will offer advice and support on a range of issues including finance, marketing and HR.
It is being introduced by the UK’s five biggest banks – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander - who are currently recruiting current and retired staff to act as volunteer mentors.
The scheme was set up by the Business Finance Taskforce
, which was created last summer by the UK’s major lenders.
The mentor scheme is no doubt a response to increasing criticism of the banking sector for not doing enough to support Britain’s SME community.
Under Project Merlin
, a deal between banks and the Government to increase lending to SMEs, the banks agreed to lend £76bn to smaller companies in 2011.
This is equal to £19bn a quarter, higher than the £16.8bn that was actually lent to SMEs during the first three months of 2011.
Despite this, Lloyds Banking Group director Stephen Pegg told the BBC that finance was available to SMEs and that the mentoring scheme would help them access it more easily.
"Having a bit of financial input, someone to ask the right questions... helps you put together better lending propositions so actually that finance can get out there and businesses can be encouraged to have the confidence to invest and the contacts to look at a wider range of finance," he said.
Andrew Cave from the Federation of Small Businesses
said: "[This initiative] starts to repair the mistakes of the past by bringing people who are working in the banks closer to the business community."
Last week, Shadow Minister for Small Business and Enterprise Chuka Umunna urged Lloyds chief executive António Horta-Osório to improve his company’s lending to small businesses