Hartpury’s farming entrepreneurs banking on budding business ideas

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Our third year agriculture students got the opportunity to expand their entrepreneurial experience when advisors from NatWest visited Hartpury.

John Room, who is Relationship Manager Agriculture at NatWest Bank and Michelle Collins, who is Business Growth Enabler at NatWest, spoke to students at the farm.

They talked about starting new businesses and went through the process of looking at prospective lenders from the bank’s point of view. This covered various forms of borrowing, including overdrafts, as well as interest rates and the effect they can have on borrowing - a hot topic which was debated at length as farm borrowing reached a reached a record high earlier this year.

Persistently poor farmgate and market prices combined with low interest rates contribute to a difficult financial climate for budding agricultural entrepreneurs. Reports from the Agricultural and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) suggest that the key to business performance in these difficult time is an ability to exercise greater control over the costs of production.

Michelle Collins, who works with small to medium sized business enterprises in the county, explained how small start-up companies can borrow money from the bank and how the bank then pro with mentors and training sessions to help these businesses, giving them the skills they need to grow.

Our budding entrepreneurs took the opportunity to discuss some of their business proposals. Emily Hobbs, from Elmore, explained her idea: “I’m hoping to diversify at our family dairy farm with a view to start a business making ice cream from our dairy herd. It was fantastic to get this opportunity and I got some really helpful information from Michelle.”

Discussing financial matters and explaining the process of borrowing from a bank will hopefully encourage a few business leaders of the future.

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