For all your Prets and Westfields peppering London, there's a heartening amount of small businesses making their mark; in fact pint-sized businesses account for nearly 50% of the capital's employment. For further proof, there's the Small Business Friendly Borough Awards, taking place on 16 November.
Now in its third year, the awards demonstrates how councils across London recognise the importance of, and support small and micro businesses, by offering advice and finance, promoting local trade and encouraging locals to use their native setups.
We’re particularly pleased to see businesses across London serving a diverse range of communities benefiting from their councils. Pitted against Westminster and other councils, Richmond is hoping to scoop the Best All Round Small Business Friendly Borough award. Among the council's initiatives is the borough's flagship enterprise programme, Richmond’s Den, which provides money and support to those with early stage business ideas. The council has also included offered businesses the opportunity to promote special offers to the borough’s 80,000 Richmond Card holders.
Among those up for this year's Best Place-Based Campaign to Support Local Trade are Brent and Merton councils. The former ran a local Small Business Saturday campaign, encouraging residents to vote, and giving five winning businesses free marketing and business support, while those who nominated were given a £100 cheque to spend at the business.
Merton Council's nomination is due to its part-funding of Wimbletech, a managed workspace facility for creative and digital media entrepreneurs based in Wimbledon library. Said Jennifer Denning, director of Finling Associates, which joined Wimbletech a couple of months back:
Finling were one of the first companies to move into Wimbletech. We were delighted to have a really good value space right in the centre of Wimbledon, something that would otherwise have been unaffordable for a while to come. The space enabled me to make a full time hire, and work closely with my new member of staff as he learned the ropes. Finling also gained new clients from amongst the Wimbletech user base; ultimately growing the business to a point where we moved to our own larger office in Wimbledon.
Elsewhere, Hounslow is one of the councils nominated for Best Programme of Support for Small Businesses — for improving survival rates among start-ups and small businesses, among other things. Said Zulfi Ahmed, from Tragopan Security, who benefited from Hounslow Council's support:
The biggest advantage of the mentoring is that while I have so many plans I’m worried about making the wrong decisions... The yes/no advice gave me the reassurance I needed to just relax and go for it.
The Small Business Friendly Borough Awards, supported by London Councils and the Federation of Small Businesses, is on 16 November. Londonist are proud to be media partners.