Accountants applaud Business Growth Fund
Accountants are applauding the establishment of an Australian Business Growth Fund, announced by the government last month to provide long-term equity funding to small businesses.
The Business Growth Fund is expected to follow similar international precedents and is planned to be funded by investors from the private sector.
Earlier this month, a round table on the topic was held in Canberra, following which the small business ombudsman said that the fund could be operational mid-2019.
Accountants working with small businesses have welcomed the government’s initiative and believe the fund would secure the growth of Aussie entrepreneurs.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the Australian economy. They are innovative, industrious and employ about half of all Australian workers. Unless they have bricks and mortar it is extremely hard to borrow money,” Greg Sheridan, director and business adviser at Sheridans Accountants & Financial Planners, told Public Accountant recently.
“I was at an IPA workshop earlier in the year where the idea was floated by Andrew Conway and thought then that it is just what we need.”
He explained that Sheridans Accountants have had many small business clients that could not go ahead with plans to grow through a lack of funding.
One such client had migrated from Germany with a business plan to set up a packaging manufacturing plant in Australia.
“We tried for almost a year to borrow money but were unsuccessful and the plan was eventually shelved. This is the type of business that the Business Growth Fund could help,” Mr Sheridan said.
He is, however, concerned that the government’s idea of what a small business is, deviates from his own.
“Most small businesses we deal with employ less than 10 people, whereas the government seems to target businesses employing hundreds of people when giving grants etc,” Mr Sheridan said.
“It is those clever, innovative, hardworking people sitting in sheds, offices and shops all over Australia who are struggling to get funds and so I hope they have access to the new fund.”
The government’s Business Growth Fund received substantial support earlier in December from several institutional bodies, including APRA.
NAB is now expected to lead and chair an industry working group towards its establishment. Its executive general manager, business direct and small business, Leigh O’Neill, has said that the bank takes confidence from the UK and Canada, where such funds have operated successfully for years.