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How small businesses can afford to go greener

A new campaign to get businesses to trade vans for cargo bikes won’t be applicable to all firms but it is a reminder of a larger push of greener business practices, which Covid-19 is helping accelerate. So, how can cash-strapped small firm afford the switch?

The Local Government Association has released a report in which it urges businesses to use cargo bikes for last-mile deliveries instead of trade vans. While the campaign is clearly focused on inner city businesses and the need to develop business practices in line with the evolution of city infrastructure and against the backdrop of rising levels of van and HGV use and the impact on air pollution, the initiative has a message for all firms.

Greener business practices and the role of Covid-19

Covid-19 has put the spotlight on health and the environment, and in terms of the business world, on the value of greater business sector sustainability development. The call for cargo bike last-mile deliveries is part of a larger trend for greener business practices.

The government currently appears to be putting its weight behind reform, but regardless of political backing, it seems likely that the pressure on businesses to increase invest in sustainable development and operate in a more environmental way will only intensify in the short term. The availability of green loans and other incentives should help accelerate the process.

Of course, going greener means different things to different companies. There are those that have the capacity to use alternative energy sources, including through the installation of solar panels and the processing of waste into fuel, but for most it means taking steps such as encouraging employees to leave their cars at home, sourcing goods and services from sustainable suppliers, reducing building energy footprints, recycling electronics, switching to cloud computing, using environmentally friendly cleaning products and swapping vans for cargo bikes.

Raising capital for green investment and how alternative finance can help

This kind of change is already happening and the momentum behind this change will only grow going forward, not least as a good sustainability profile becomes an increasingly valuable sales tool. But, while larger businesses have the resources to adapt quickly and comprehensively, managing change is much harder for smaller firms, in particular as Covid-19 has them fighting for their lives.

So, how can small businesses afford to go greener?

Alternative finance can help.

In the wake of prolonged caution from traditional lenders, alternative finance facilities such as invoice finance, asset finance, peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding are proving a vital source of capital for small businesses, both for safeguarding cashflow and for essential investment. These facilities, which offer a more personalised approach to lending, are helping small businesses survive and grow.

Tellingly, alternative finance is playing a key role in the government’s Covid-19 business support strategy, in particular with regard to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which offers access to a range of finance facilities, including alternative finance services.

For many small firms, right now evolution is a means of survival, and as they are doing this, they are being asked to adopt greener business practices. To achieve this goal at a time when they are under incredible pressure, business owners need to be aware of all the funding options available to them, including the services offered by alternative lenders.

To find out more about A&T Business Associates services, contact Steve Bowles on 01903 602211 or steve.bowles@atbusinessassociates.co.uk.

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