Birmingham Science Park Aston
0121 359 2444
ART, which is designed to support small and medium sized businesses unable to access the finance they need from the banks, has lent over £1m over the past year in its target area of Birmingham and Solihull – and still has more to lend.
Steve Walker, Chief Executive of ART, explains: “We were established in 1997, with both private and public sector backing, to fill a gap opening up in the market. Even then it was recognised that the banks were closing branches and becoming more cautious in their lending to smaller businesses, which are generally more risky to lend to and return a smaller profit for the time taken to administer the loan. The aim was to ensure that SMEs – acknowledged as the backbone of the British economy – could continue to access the finance they needed.”
Nearly 14 years on ART is still going strong and has helped hundreds of businesses to start up, survive challenging trading conditions, grow and diversify.
“We are owned by our members, both borrowers and investors,” says Steve, “and are constituted as an Industrial & Provident Society. “Money repaid on loans is reinvested in more loans. Our aim is to boost the local economy, helping our borrowers to create and preserve jobs.”
ART’s borrowers have included award-winning start ups and existing high-growth businesses, both commercial and social enterprises, as well as self-employed individuals simply working to support themselves and their families. They are engaged in a wide range of markets, from traditional manufacturing to hi-tech services, from catering to social housing.
“We’re here for just about any business with a viable proposition,” says Steve, “and if for some reason we can’t help, we will always refer people on to others who may be able to.”