AN AWARD-winning entrepreneur has slated the “obsession” with getting the banks lending again to small businesses.

Samantha Acton, proprietor of Southbourne-based Domestic Angels, said there had been a “paradigm shift” which meant SMEs no longer needed the banks so badly.

She said the issue had become the “default subject when either political party senses that ‘business’ hasn’t been in the headlines recently”.

She said: “We accept as fact that since 2008 the regular banks have reined in their lending, which is a natural response to their previous over-lending.

“A good entrepreneur will seek and secure investment from alternative sources as the banks’ reduced willingness to lend is merely perceived as a challenge to overcome or get around, not the end of the road.

“In fact I would hazard a guess that the alternative funding streams may actually be more appropriate, lending more than just finances – for example, personal commitment or proven commercial expertise.

“Interestingly, amongst my local business community there is no issue around borrowing finances, it’s a message that appears to dwell predominantly in the media and minds of politicians.”

She said the banks were used to “dominating” small businesses.

“I can make an educated guess that the banks and the state are used to making a profit from failing SMEs through their financial relationships with us and so our effective resourcefulness to secure alternative finance streams actually takes an income stream away from the ‘big boys’,” she said.

She said the “new world of SME finance” was likely to see relatives investing in businesses and offering mentoring, as well as neighbouring business owners taking “more than just a passing interest”.

“This has all happened before. The difference now is that there is more of it and people are proud and open.

“They are not keeping it secret from the ‘big boys’ any more,” she added.

Samantha Acton, who chairs Southbourne On Sea Business Association, founded her business in 2002 and was recently named the Home Based Business of the Year in the national Venus Awards.