ENTREPRENEURSHIP / FEB. 25, 2014
version 4, draft 5

Grants for Your Ecofriendly Business

The British government has legal obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and encourage businesses that have minimal strain on the natural resources under Kyoto Protocol and the 2008 Climate Change Act. To meet targets set by these agreements, a number of funding schemes have been established. Of course, austerity measures and the government's take on reducing public deficit stroke down much of the help eco-friendly businesses can have, but there are still some sources to look into for money.

Before contending for an eco-friendly grant, you have to consider the following conditions and requirements:

1. An eco-friendly, or green, business is an enterprise that has the lowest negative impact on the nature and contributes to building a strong and sustainable legacy for future generations. Reduced energy consumption, efficient waste management and lower gas emissions are all but a few examples of measures that are most likely to attract a subsided loan or a public grant.

2. Business plan is an essential part of eco-friendly funding application because it gives you a chance to narrate what your business is all about and how, or how much, it is going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or energy consumption. Pay enough attention to detail and ensure you are both practical and original enough in your thoughts - the competition for funding is intense, especially for free grants. Your business plan must look and sound professional and you may need to contract an agency to help you polish it.

3. Decide what type of funding you are in for. Usually, you will have these few options - a nation-wide grant, a regional grant, or a private loan. Because competition for regional grants is going to be weaker than for nation-wide, and because terms of grants are better than those of subsidized loans, it's a good idea to compete first for a regional grant, if there are some fitting your business. Each application will require substantial amount of work on your part, so apply one by one no matter how many of them you have found.

Besides funds and private financial institutions that make monetary investments into green businesses, there are also a few organisations that support them by expert advice and consultation. The Carbon Trust is arguably the biggest. It can assess your business's eco-friendliness and suggest improvements, thus increasing your chances of receiving a grant. The organisation works with entrepreneurs in developing low carbon technologies and solutions to accelerate the move to a sustainable and energy savvy economy. You can find a list and short descriptions of businesses the Carbon Trust has worked with so far here.

Searching for funds that support eco-friendly businesses can be long and complicated. Often, there are a number of very specific eligibility requirements that only a few can meet. Some websites have been set up that help businesses search all open schemes at any given moment. Results won't necessarily match your project aims and you may need to make changes in your business plan to qualify for funding. We recommend you visiting the Green Grants Machine to search for eco-friendly business funding for free. You will have to fill in a simple registration form before you can search their database.

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