The Malta Independent 24 June 2019, Monday

GRTU establishes relations with the Fed of Small Businesses and the British Business Bank in UK

The Malta Business Weekly Thursday, 17 January 2019, 16:21 Last update: about 6 months ago

As part of an ESF project awarded entitled SMEs tuning the Art of Representation, a delegation composed of council members and GRTU employees went on a visit to London primarily with the aim to better understand the best practices that similar organisations offer to their members, specifically in terms of financial services and access to finance.

During this visit the delegation visited the Federation of Small Businesses and the British Business Bank. Similar to GRTU, FSB is totally funded through member subscriptions. FSB was founded in 1974 and represents around 165,000 members which in their majority are small to micro businesses.

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During the meetings FSB thoroughly explained the main services it offers to its members specifically those services aimed to assist members in relation to access to finance and tailored insurance policies. Of the services offered FSB offers assistance to start-ups and also other established businesses in order to help them access finance.

This visit also served as a good opportunity for GRTU to increase its cooperation with FSB especially in light of Brexit. GRTU president Paul Abela explained that GRTU is closely following Brexit with the aim of ensuring that business remains and members are not negatively impacted in the case that the UK exits the EU or in the case of a no deal. The same sentiment was also expressed by FSB national chairman Mike Cherry.

GRTU delegates were also invited to visit the British Business Bank. The BBB was created in 2013 following thorough negotiations with the state aid advisory board in order to clearly comply with the state aid requirements.

One of the meetings held during this visit was with the BBB CEO Keith Morgan. Morgan explained that the BBB has indirect contact with SMEs and their main relationship is with intermediaries. The BBB's main functions are to provide equity to businesses, address geographical imbalances and address access to finance issues which do not fall under the scope of traditional banks.

Abela explained that the GRTU has always advocated the importance of access to finance for local businesses and how this leads to growth. Abela also mentioned that Malta lacks diversity in funding and this experience will help GRTU in increasing its knowledge on the tools available for businesses in the UK.

Moreover, through GRTU's insistence the recently set up Malta Development Bank of which Abela is a Board member aims to achieve more funding diversification and opportunities to local businesses.

The visit to the BBB was very fruitful in terms of the project success rate and also in terms of the capacity building for GRTU delegates. In the near future, GRTU will be evaluating and considering offering similar incentives to its members.

The visit to the Federation of Small Businesses and the British Business Bank aimed to serve as a learning experience, exchanging views and also to learn and understand better the services offered by both organisations. Through this visit GRTU delegates were able to understand better which services would be beneficial to GRTU members in order to implement and start offering similar services to its members in the near future. Finally both visits helped to enhance collaboration and increase the relationship with FSB and BBB and also to enhance further future collaboration.

The GRTU was represented by president Abela, CEO Abigail Mamo, Andrew Aquilina, vice-president Michael Galea, vice-president Mario Debono and Council member Marthese Micallef.

 


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