The sponsor of The Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Business Awards Small Business of the Year award, is the Federation of Small Businesses which champions small business on every level. The chairman of the Huntingdonshire branch explains why the organisation chose to sponsor these awards for the fifth consecutive year. THE Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is the largest UK campaigning group for small businesses. Malcolm Lyons, chairman of the Huntingdonshire branch, which boasts 750 members, is dedicated to making sure small businesses are heard and acknowledged both locally and nationally. "Our organisation is continually growing. This time last year, UK membership stood at 185,000 but now the federation has 195,000 members. This growth rate shows the significance of this sector. Small units can be more effective and efficient than some big companies. Big, in this case, is not always beautiful." He explained why the federation continues to sponsor The Hunts Post Business Awards: "As an organisation we are at the forefront of small business and we want to support them at all levels. This is why we continue to be involved. "But being part of these awards helps us too. It tells more people about the federation and what we can do for our members. It definitely helps to raise our profile and the involvement works as a partnership between all the parties involved." Small businesses are important to this region and Mr Lyons is impressed by the calibre of the companies the awards attract each year. "I think there have been some very fine examples of small businesses coming through these awards. And it is great that they will put themselves forward. It shows confidence in their business. "Our area has many market towns and rural areas so there is a high proportion of small businesses here. Huntingdonshire is a good area to be based in. We have good housing and infrastructure and people are able to operate small businesses from their homes. Starting up is not so difficult and small outfits can be streamlined. "The core strategy for Huntingdonshire, which sets out the overall approach to development up to 2021, is important to small businesses here. We need to ensure that small businesses continue to grow and we need to make sure that there are premises for them to fulfil this." The FSB is non-profit making and non-party political and offers assistance and support to members 24 hours a day. The 24-hour FSB legal helpline received more than 100,000 calls last year, helping with enquiries on employment, commercial contracts, property leasing and consumer affairs. "Small businesses are vital to this region," said Mr Lyons. "And the FSB is vital to small business." INFORMATION: The Huntingdonshire branch of the Federation of Small Businesses can be contacted on 01480 454801 or see www.fsb.org.uk for more information, membership details and application forms.