UK Export Finance: Championing the best of business in Devon


The UK is home to some of the most resilient businesses. But you don’t need to navigate challenges alone as UK Export Finance (UKEF) is is here to help. Tim Burden, UKEF’s Export Finance Manager for Somerset, Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and South Wiltshire, explains how.

The last year has, for many businesses across the UK, been one characterised by uncertainty and financial challenges. From supply chain issues to rising inflation, UK businesses seeking to export can sometimes feel like they are facing an uphill battle. And this is on top of the typical trials and tribulations of running a business and finding the adequate funding to support international trading.

At UKEF, we’re no strangers to these types of obstacles, and we’re here to help – not only when things get difficult, but in the good times, too.

It could be that your business is seeing unprecedented international demand for a product or service, found a new buyer in an untapped market, or successfully won a larger-than-typical contract. At first, many will relish in this success. But business owners may soon realise the prospect of fulfilling that new demand requires more finance than they have access to.

UKEF’s decades of experience mean we have seen this scenario many times. We know that working capital pressure is only heightened when trying to navigate a turbulent macroeconomic environment, such as we’ve seen in the last 12 months.

When the economic outlook is uncertain, venturing into international markets may seem uninviting. But it is not prohibitive. The UK government’s award-winning export credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF), exists to ensure that no viable UK export fails for lack of finance or insurance. Working alongside the Department for Business and Trade, our mission is to support businesses to realise their growth potential in a way that is sustainable and comes at no net cost to the taxpayer.

We provided £7.4 billion to exporters of all sizes from 2021-2022, with £33.4 billion of financing delivered over the last five years – and, despite the external headwinds, we have no plans of slowing down. Crucially, our work is at no cost to the taxpayer, so it’s a win for all.

I know, from first-hand experience meeting with industry leaders in the county, that there are some hugely innovative companies here in Devon, whose products and services are very attractive to overseas buyers.

One such business to have benefitted from UKEF’s support is Eco Charger. Based in Ilfracombe, North Devon, Eco Charger is the world’s first all-electric quad bike manufacturer. After seeing growing demand from overseas markets for their trailblazing products, Eco Charger set their sights on boosting their exporting capacity.

Thanks to our General Export Facility (GEF), Eco Charger was able to achieve this by doubling their working capital facility from HSBC UK to £350k. This flexible funding allowed the business to import bike frames in much larger and regular quantities, in turn speeding up production. And since receiving UKEF’s support, Eco Charger has been able to send its eco-friendly vehicles to America, Europe and Australasia, more than tripling its exports.

The General Export Facility was designed with ambitious businesses just like Eco Charger in mind, providing financial support that is quick and simple to access. It has been a game-changer for many businesses in Devon, the South-West and across the UK, providing vital and flexible funding for their general financing needs, not just those linked to specific contracts.

UKEF reaches out to businesses through our two networks. Our domestic network, Export Finance Managers (EFM) are regionally based in 29 locations across the UK, working with businesses of all sizes. Our International Export Finance Executives (IEFEs) are based around the world.

They are experts in trade finance, using their knowledge of the region and its markets to identify opportunities, working alongside the British Embassy.  My role as EFM means that I regularly meet with firms from across the region to understand their needs and see if UKEF can assist on their exporting journey.

Our guarantee helps UK exporters to negotiate more flexible trade finance facilities with lenders, unlocking more working capital to support the growth of UK exporting businesses. Where financing might not be currently feasible, UKEF can also guide them to identify and bridge any gaps. With over 100 years of experience helping businesses to reach new markets, we can help SMEs to access the resources they need to access the opportunities that exist in the global market.

No matter the wider economic environment, we’re committed to championing the best of business in Devon on the world stage, to ensure you have the ability to reach your full growth potential.

If you think you could benefit from a free and impartial consultation, or would simply like to discuss your financial challenges and the available options, get in touch with me or your local Export Finance Manager. We’re here to help you on your business’s exporting journey.

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