Funding for Farmers of the Future
The creation of a £50,000 fund has been announced by H&H Group for young people aged between 18 to 30 years with an innovative rural business idea.
The scheme is entitled “Farming Ambition – Business Support for Young People” and exists to support the next generation of young farmers to enable them to get their idea off the ground.
The H&H loan fund is made available to young people by working in partnership with the Farmer Network, who are based at Newton Rigg College in Penrith and Enterprise Answers, who offer business funding support across the North of England. H&H Group, as one of the leading rural businesses in the area, has committed to the fund to help support the next generation of farming-related business entrepreneurs. Individuals with an idea to launch a new product, service or enterprise will have the opportunity to apply for a share of the fund, which will be loaned at an extremely competitive interest rate.
Giving further background as to why H&H Group were so keen to support such a scheme Richard Rankin, Chief Executive for H&H Group commented:
“This fund is us engaging with the next generation - we need to remain relevant in the market and get closer to what people really want. What we are looking to do, is to connect with the next generation and entrepreneurship and to encourage young farmers to remain in farming to look at the wider picture, identify opportunities and diversify if necessary. In doing so, they may be adding value to their own small farming enterprise and through our support are ensuring that they remain in farming communities, as ambassadors for and custodians of the countryside.
“To apply for the fund, the applicant has to demonstrate certain criteria, but we have made it as simple as possible. With a financial background, I fully understand the loan process and know how important it is not just to lend people money for the sake of it and without any professional support. This scheme gives potential businesspeople the opportunity to do something different to further their careers and to develop confidence, business and life skills, which will form the foundations of their future livelihoods.
“So, if you have an idea, don’t be afraid to go for it because there are many opportunities and the “Farming Ambition – Business Support for Young People” is one of them.”
This loan - funding works as part of a wider programme, whereby a young person attends an informal introduction to business course and following that is allocated a suitable Business Advisor. The Business Advisor assists the individual to verify if their idea is viable or not. If it is, the advisor continues to support the individual through a process to secure appropriate funding for their business idea:
- Stage 1 - Devise a business plan and cash flow template. The Business Advisor will happily work around the individual’s work commitments so this process could take up to six months to finalise.
- Stage 2 - The Plan is then submitted to what is known as The Business Launch Group (BLG,) which includes representatives from the partnership, to assess whether the project is financially viable. If it is, the applicant is invited to present the idea to the BLG A training or business grant to help with a specific aspect of the plan may also be applied for.
- Stage 3 - The Business Advisor then supports the applicant to present their idea to the BLG assessment group.
- The BLG will meet the applicant, review their business plan and ultimately decide if the project is viable and the funds should be loaned or a training grant allocated (or if other more appropriate options should be recommended).
- Stage 4 – Once the idea is sanctioned, the loan is expected to take around one month to come through.
The terms and conditions for applying for the loan are simple - the applicant should be from a rural/agricultural background and the project or enterprise they are planning should be farming-related and benefit or service the rural community.
Kate Gascoyne of the Farmer Network Ltd, a not-for-profit organisation providing help and support to farmers and their businesses and working collaboratively on the scheme, added:
“It’s always extremely rewarding to see a young person with an initial idea seeking this support and seeing their plan come to fruition. I have seen many success stories over the years, and even seen past beneficiaries become advisors and mentors for fledgelings to the project.”
“We are excited to be working with H&H and Enterprise Answers to add a loan facility to the offer for young people. We are also grateful to the Cumbria Community Foundation, the Francis C Scott Trust, the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Prince’s Countryside Fund for supporting the cost of the course, business advice and training grant elements of the programme”.
For more information, including case studies of previous applicants, please visit the Farmer Network website https://www.thefarmernetwork.co.uk/projects/farming-ambition-programme/.
The H&H Group is proud of its heritage of serving the rural community for over 140 years. It operates as a holding company with a number of its companies operating across the auctioneering, commercial print, insurance and property sectors. Working with rural businesses to deliver the highest quality support services, this programme is a welcome addition to this portfolio to support the local farming community to be fit for the future.