A North East climate change leader is looking to secure sustainable growth for his business with the help of a five-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported by The European Regional Development Fund.
James Staniforth set up Sustainable Business Services two and a half years ago to help public and private sector clients identify practical ways to reduce their environmental impact, adopt more sustainable ways of working and make more cost-effective use of the resources they utilise.
Headquartered in Newcastle and with a second office in York, the business has built up a growing regional client base which includes AV Dawson, Katmex, and Cleardata, while it also works in partnership with the Business & IP Centre North East and the North of Tyne Combined Authority to provide funded net-zero support to regional businesses.
The SBS management team is now looking to use the £10,000 Small Loan Fund investment, which was obtained through regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers, to build his team of sustainability consultants and take on more clients right across the UK to drive net-zero actions.
The investment has been made as part of NEL’s Net Zero Changemakers programme, which is designed to identify and support innovative businesses across the North East Local Enterprise Partnership area who are creating or adapting products, services or processes as part of the region’s low carbon agenda.
NEL has around £3m ringfenced for investment in low carbon businesses and projects from the £9m North East Small Loan Fund and the £18m North East Growth Capital Fund, which it also manages.
Sustainable Business Services’ structured Net-Zero Programme enables businesses to set a credible net-zero strategy which are aligned to internationally recognised standards, including the PAS 2060 carbon neutrality standard, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and the United Nations’ Race to Zero Campaign.
Alongside its core services, it also helps clients manage and procure renewable energy and water contracts, supporting their drive to use and spend less.
James Staniforth says: “A commitment to sustainable business practices has become a mainstream part of the public and private sectors’ ways of working in recent years, to the point that many large businesses won’t allow supply chain companies to bid for work from them without knowing what they’re doing to mitigate their environmental impact.
“It’s easy to generate lots of data around this important issue, but without human insight into what it means on a practical basis and how it can be utilised to make positive changes to an organisation’s ways of working, it can essentially be meaningless.
“Adopting sustainable business practices can go hand-in-hand with commercial growth and we’ve seen lots of client securing cost and revenue benefits alongside the environmental improvements that we’re helping to deliver.
“With the climate emergency becoming more of a priority for everyone, we’re seeing interest in our services growing from businesses and organisations of all sizes and we’re building our resources to ensure we can provide the support and advice they need to achieve their objectives.
“Working locally is an important part of sustainable business practice, which the capital NEL makes available made possible for us, and the support we had from their team made obtaining this investment a straightforward experience.”
Jonathan Armitage, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “James and his team are applying their specialist knowledge to find practical solutions to their clients’ specific needs and demand for the services they offer is clearly only going to keep increasing.
“Low carbon and sustainable investment is one of the North East Fund’s main priorities, and we’re working to do as much as we can to support the progress and growth of innovative regional firms that are working in this field.”
Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £100,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.
It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.
The overarching £120m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 2,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.
NEL Fund Managers is also responsible for managing the £18m North East Growth Capital Fund, which offers unsecured investments of up to £500,000 to established businesses looking to realise their growth potential.
For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.