Resilience gives us all the strength to cope with stress and hardship. It allows us to adapt quickly to disruption, maintain continuity and safeguard people. Indeed, research proves that resilient organisations are best placed to survive an economic slowdown and ride any waves of uncertainty.
The Covid-19 pandemic has tested the resilience of us all. It forced events to stop and countless numbers of employees across all sectors into home working overnight. Few were adequately prepared and many employers were cynical about maintaining performance and productivity levels under such circumstances. However, out of adversity comes opportunity and we’re certainly learning that the new normal is bringing many benefits for our working culture and our work-life balance.
Of course, we are still dealing with some big economic challenges and there is no doubt that there is uncertainty ahead. There are issues affecting productivity - including the cost of living crisis, the price of energy, the limited labour market and the need for better infrastructure - in all parts of Wales. The double-whammy of the pandemic and the UK’s departure from the European Union means that we are both economically and socially vulnerable which is why we need to see investment in skills, education and infrastructure being prioritised and scaled up. Investment is what will give us the skilled workforce that we need and it will help to attract inward investment.
As life returns to normal, I know that our members are keen to maximise every opportunity to scale-up and grow the businesses that you run and those that you act for. Many of you have been telling me that continued financial support for SMEs as the lifeblood of our economy is critical. I was therefore pleased that the latest results from the Development Bank of Wales showed an increase in the overall volume and value of deals coupled with high levels of co-investment in Welsh businesses in 2021/22.
Their annual results indicate 519 investments with an average deal value of £210,276 across more than 460 Welsh businesses during the year ending 31 March 2022. I have no doubt that many of you were instrumental to these deals and the numbers certainly demonstrate that there is no lack of appetite from ambitious entrepreneurs and resilient businesses looking for funding to help them develop and grow.
So, with a renewed sense of hope and a focus on the future, we look forward to what the next year holds. You’ve only got to attend recent events like the IoD Wales Awards, Finance Awards Wales and Wales Business Awards to see just how keen we all are to support each other and celebrate our achievements. Of course, I’m particularly pleased to see how much our members are looking forward to our own annual dinner which is back in the diary for 20 October.