DESPITE continuing uncertainties on the economic impact of Brexit, London’s Deputy Mayor for Business Rajesh Agrawal is remaining focused.
In early July, the new board of the Greater London Investment Fund, tasked with delivering the Mayor’s vision for supporting SMEs, was announced. Speaking exclusively to the GG2 Power List, Agrawal explains how the fund will strengthen the capital’s SME ecosystem.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of London’s economy – there are more than a million in London, they account for 99 per cent of all businesses and around 49 per cent of jobs. The Mayor and I are committed to doing all we can to help small and medium-sized enterprises flourish.
“The Greater London Investment Fund is a £100 million fund providing finance for businesses which are ready to grow but finding it difficult to secure investment. As well as investing in 170 companies, the fund will secure at least £103 million in private sector investment and create 3,500 new jobs in London.
“As a small business-owner myself, I know accessing the finance needed to start and grow a business can be one of the biggest challenges, especially at a time of economic uncertainty.”
Agrawal likely derives motivation and inspiration from his own experience when, having arrived in the UK from India a year earlier, he was turned down for a bank loan to fund his fledgling money transfer business in 2001.
In order to secure the startup capital, he had to, instead, request a loan for a car, which was approved immediately.
His intention is for the GLIF to be only one of a number of initiatives aimed at creating a business-friendly environment for SMEs in the capital.
“Since Sadiq took office, we’ve launched the London Growth Hub, a one-stop- shop for business support, which has helped 1,722 businesses