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ART has seen a record 35% increase in loans delivered over the last twelve months, with borrowers coming from a variety of industry sectors, from manufacturing to new media, from catering to child care.
“We have lent more in the last year than in any previous year in our 15 year history,” says Steve Walker, Chief Executive of ART. “The trend has been towards more support for existing businesses with a reduction in the number of start ups seeking an additional source of loan finance.”
With an average loan size of £20,000, ART is offering vital access to finance for small and medium sized enterprises looking to support their cashflow, or invest in growth, diversification or jobs.
Steve Walker explains: “these smaller loans are not commercially viable for the banks, yet over 95% of all businesses fall into the small to medium sized category.”
ART is a Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI), which lends between £10,000 and £50,000 to businesses based in Birmingham and Solihull unable to access the finance they need from the banks. There are other CDFIs serving different areas in the West Midlands, all of which belong to the Fair Finance Consortium.
“CDFIs have been around for over a decade,” says Steve, “filling in gaps in the lending market left by the banks, but their role has never been so important as it is now. All of the local CDFIs have seen a dramatic increase in applications since the credit crunch including from larger businesses, which prior to 2008 would have been considered ‘bankable’.”