Upcoming Business Soundbites Session: SMEs and Access to Finance

The session on SMEs and access to finance, organised in partnership with Santander UK, will look at types of funding available to small and medium-sized companies (such as loans, grants, venture capital, crowdfunding or share capital) and SMEs’ perception and experience on accessing these various types of funding.

Dr Ortenca Kume, lecturer in Finance at Kent Business School, will share the outcomes of her research in this area, followed by:

  • Short presentations by CEOs of AbBaltis and start-up ‘Mindspire’
  • Round table discussion
  • Q&A session with a team of financial experts

Session Speakers

Dr Ortenca Kume

Lecturer in Finance

Prior to joining KBS, she taught and conducted research at Robert Gordon University, from where she also holds a PhD in Finance. Ortenca has taught a wide variety of finance modules including:

  • Principles of finance
  • Treasury management
  • International financial management
  • Quantitative methods in finance
  • Commercial and Investment Banking at postgraduate level


Giedre Brandao 

Founding Managing Director of AbBaltis Ltd.

Giedre holds a Master’s degree in Biotechnology from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, USA and a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania.

Her career started as a bench scientist for companies such as Antigenics, Genzyme and GSK. Giedre then progressed to positions in business development in the In Vitro Diagnostics sector before founding AbBaltis in 2010.

  • AbBaltis, finalist for the “International Business of the Year”
  • AbBaltis, Small Business of the Year, Swale Business Awards, 2013
  • Entrepreneur of the Year, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce Awards, 2014
  • Queens Award for Enterprise for International Trade, 2015


Jane Ollis

Director, Start-up Mindspire

Jane brings 25 years of diverse business experience from interning at NASA to sitting on and advising boards of global companies, charities and government bodies.

She is an environmental scientist and biochemist by training, interested in how science and technology can shape tomorrow’s world. Jane is an alumni of Sydney’s prestigious social leadership programme and business fellow of Oxford University and today focuses on building and serving business that have a clear purpose and social impact.


Shaun Beaney

Corporate Finance Faculty, ICAEW

Colin works on communications, public policy and advisory projects for the Corporate Finance Faculty, particularly on innovation investment, access to finance, high-growth companies and venture capital.

Colin is currently leading a new project, AI in Corporate Advisory, and chairs Immerse UK’s Access to Finance & Investment Working Group. Shaun previously worked in corporate finance research at BDO in London and was deputy editor of Real Deals, the international private equity and venture capital magazine.

He has devised, researched and co-authored:


Colin Berkeley

Regional Director, Santander Business

Colin joined Santander in 2013 after fourteen years with RBS where he led the Professionals Team in Commercial Banking. Colin has led Business Relationship Director Teams in Santander in London, Kent Surrey & Sussex. He currently heads a team of thirty five including:

  • experienced senior Business Relationship Directors
  • locally branch based Business Relations Managers
  • support team members looking after over fifty five thousand customers.

Their support extends beyond simple banking facilities and finance and Colin’s team run ‘Breakthrough’ activity that shares insight and knowledge to help businesses prosper, make the right connections and support high growth.


Geert Struyven

Partner, Crowe

Geert has led the Corporate Finance team in Kent since 2008 and heads up our National Business Valuation Department. Prior to qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in 1998 with Arthur Andersen, he was a lecturer at the University of Wales where he gained an MBA and PhD.

After gaining valuable audit experience, he moved into Corporate Finance at Arthur Andersen and subsequently to the corporate finance team at a mid-tier firm. Geert has extensive experience advising on:

  • Mergers
  • Acquisitions
  • MBOs
  • Fund raising
  • Sales mandates

For years, Geert has provided financial due diligence and other transaction support services to various funders, including major banks, private equity providers, and to our corporate client base. Geert is a fellow of the ICAEW Corporate Finance faculty and Valuation Faculty as well as a member of the Academy of Experts.

The Business Soundbites session: SMEs and access to finance is to take place on Thursday 6 June from 17:00hrs onwards in the Sibson building on our Canterbury campus.

Register for the SMEs Access to Finance Event here.

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