“The government won’t help us, so we must help ourselves”

“Businesses cannot solely rely on public-sector help,” says Bentley, who is the fifth generation of his family to run the Leeds-based paper recycling and manufacturing firm. “The saying goes: ‘In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.’

"It’s not a new idea, but by working together to form strong supply chains and mutually beneficial relationships, businesses can pull through."

As a successful exporter of soap-making products to the United States, Bentley says he was particularly interested in British Airways’ commitment to give £15m-worth of free flights to small and medium firms. 

“I’ve since read that Avis is following suit by offering free car rentals,” he continues. “Well done, I say. Even the least cynical person can see the commercial reasons behind these companies’ decisions. But through a kind of ‘corporate social responsibility for SMEs’, they are providing an immediate kick-start to firms wanting to trade abroad.

“While these are large gestures, the essence of the idea is very transferable. Whether it’s discounted products or a specially-designed package of services, we can all help each other in the face of a downturn.”

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