Business Versus Finance? Time To Wedge

March 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Creating a wedge between the real-world economy of small and medium-sized businesses and the shadow-economy of the financial sector could be one of the strongest narratives to build on for those wanting to change the economic system.

This may be obvious to some, but the interests of the world of business is not singular. The Federation of Small Business constantly demands greater access to credit, and has even pushed for wider-scale banking reform. The banking sector is loathe to take on those proposals. What works for one is often to the detriment of the other.

And this fight doesn’t take place behind closed doors. Last week Alun Richards, a Welsh business owner, went on hunger strike after being refused a loan by publicly-owned Lloyds TSB. He runs a small business park, after his family moved out of farming. His media quotes are a campaigners dream –

“I am being ruined by Lloyds, a giant banking group who seem not to care about individual businessmen.”

“It is a great tragedy for this country and it’s about time businessmen like me started to stand up and shout and complain. It feels like Lloyds have tried to crush me. But all I want is a thorough investigation into my complaints against Lloyds.”

We know that local businesses support their local community more than multi-nationals do (just ask any village fete organiser!), and it is much more difficult for a small business not to have values be part of their business – notice the word ‘care’ in the first quote.

This story can be replicated across the country – pubs and restaurants, hairdressers and builders – all will have faced the same situation while bankers notch up their bonuses, and the financial industry once again becomes the most profitable industry in the world.

Moving towards a triple-bottom line business model won’t immediately have small businesses on board, but that’s not what this distinction is about. We can illustrate the failure of an economy/politics steered by corporate financiers, that leaves small businesses sidelined and facing closure.

Nearly 23 million people work in small and medium businesses in the UK. That’s a lot of people who can be agreeing with this line of argument. Worth a try?

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