The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), Microsoft and PC builder Evesham Technology have thrown their combined weight behind the Home Computing Initiatives (HCI) and are open to partnerships with other channel players to target the SME sector.
According to recent BCC research, 70 per cent of UK companies have no knowledge of HCI - which allows employers to offer employees a tax-free loan to buy home PCs - with only two per cent of firms involved with the scheme, leaving a huge opportunity for channel players.
As a result, the BCC, Microsoft and Evesham are offering Chamber HCI, a tailored version of the programme, to encourage take-up among BCC members.
Karina Knudsen, project manager at the BCC, said a lot of firms are wary of the scheme because they see it as costly and requiring a lot of legal and financial support.
"By partnering with Evesham and Microsoft we can help bring the scheme down to SME level and provide firms with not only the materials but the necessary support as well," she said.
Carolyn Worth, external relations manager at Evesham, said the move is a positive step for the channel because the BCC has about 1.25 million members.
"This partnership will make it a lot easier for smaller firms that may have been a little intimidated by the scheme in the past, and is a good way to encourage staff recruitment," she said.
John Laity, marketing director at specialist HCI reseller OneCall, said he was very encouraged by the BCC's involvement, especially in terms of bringing the scheme to smaller businesses.
"It's not rocket science to know that SMEs employ the largest number of people in the UK, and yet the SME sector is where everyone hasn't been looking [to implement HCI]," he said. "This will have a huge impact for small firms if we can get it right."
Tony Price, managing director of online reseller WStore, said: "This will certainly help companies become more aware of the scheme. We are looking into it on a certain level, but there are lots of support issues around HCI that are still putting some resellers off."
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