We are delighted that WeDO member Ailsa Proverbs, who founded The Big Cheesemaking Kit a little over a year ago has been selected by our sponsors Santander to join their forthcoming Women In Business Trade Mission to New York. ?the Trade Missions are an integral part of the Santander Breakthrough Programme which?aims to help Britain’s fastest growing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). ?Selected businesses receive funding and financial advice, as well as the chance to visit successful companies and learn from leading entrepreneurs.

The Breakthrough programme is aimed at businesses that have advanced well beyond the start-up stage to achieve a turnover of between ?500,000 and ?25 million per annum while posting growth of 20% or more in turnover, pro?t or employment. Ironically, as we know only too well from our members, ?it is entrepreneurial companies like these, led by strong, ambitious management teams and underpinned by carefully considered growth strategies, that most often struggle when it comes to accessing funding and resources.

Those of you who have led companies through a period of expansion will know that ramping up capacity, building market share and breaking into new markets usually requires not only ?nancial support but also knowledge and skills that may not be available within your organisation. And this is where the Breakthrough programme comes in. Under this initiative, Santander seeks to identify and support successful, fast-growth SMEs as they work to break through to the next level.

Funding is an important part of the package. ?Over the next few years, Santander aim to make ?200 million available for investment in businesses that they see as ?Growth Champions?. ?They will also ensure that any company selected for the programme will have access to some of the best advice and talent available, including business people who have already established their own companies as market leaders on a national and global stage.

What does this mean in practice?

All companies selected to take part in the Breakthrough programme will have access to the Santander Growth Capital team to discuss how best to support their aspirations. ? Although managed at a divisional level, the selection of the Growth Champions will be made in collaboration with universities, successful entrepreneurs and with business intelligence provider Experian.

The selection criteria are exacting. ? They are looking for the very best businesses in each region, regardless of their current banking partner. ?The growth capital loan facility is a vital component of the scheme as a whole. Essentially, they aim to help SMEs plug the funding gap.

The International Trade Missions address the fact that?moving into overseas markets can be daunting. Working in collaboration with UK Trade & Investment, Santander take selected delegates on fact-?nding trips overseas. These trade missions are a chance to both map out the market and make useful contacts. ?It is this opportunity that Ailsa has been fortunate enough to be selected for.

Ailsa has been extremely successful in her first year of business and her goats cheese, ricotta and mozzarella cheese kits have enjoyed record sales online and are also stocked in Harrods and Selfridges. ?A deal was recently signed with Danish retailer and the kits will shortly be stocked in their department stores. ?The most recent kit to launch is Scottish Crowdie.

“I was absolutely thrilled to be invited to join the Santander Women in Business Trade Mission to New York. ?North America is a key export market for us so I’m really looking forward to getting over there and picking up lots of useful information and contacts. ?The Big Cheese Making Kit has been trading for only a year but is growing rapidly. ?We think the American market is ideal for our product. ?We can see our Scottish Crowdie Cheese Making Kit going down very well over there!” ?commented Ailsa.

Steve Hand, Business Development Director at Santander who works closely with our members added

“Santander Corporate and Commercial Banking has been delighted to support Ailsa and her business The Big Cheesemaking Kit, one of WeDO Scotland members. ?In November, we will send Ailsa and another 9 ?Women In Business? to the US in a bid to help them identify and capitalise new opportunities to take their businesses to the next level. ?The heavily subsidised trade missions are one of the components that make up Santander?s Breakthrough programme specially designed to provide a wide range of support to fast growing businesses.”

We look forward to hearing all about Ailsa’s trip and will post another blog once she returns. ?You can find out more about the Santander Breakthrough Programme by clicking here.

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Categories: Business Updates

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