Having attended a few of these events, I have been prompted to consider what success means for ART (Aston Reinvestment Trust), which I have led for 17 years this month - since it started - and what it means for our investors, stakeholders and above all borrowers.
In its simplest form ART makes loans to small businesses and social enterprises, only where a bank has declined to help in full or, in some cases, at all. So, as has been pointed out on many occasions to me at events, if a large proportion of our businesses fully repay their loans we have been successful.
However, at ART we are looking for a double success when we support a business. We are lending in the expectation that our borrowers will be able to create or save jobs and boost the local economy as a result. If the loan is repaid and jobs are the other outcome – we celebrate a double helping of success.
For a loan provider such as ART, where part of our funds are provided by other parties - at the moment the Government in the form of partial support from the Regional Growth Fund, a triple success is achieved, because when the loan is repaid it can be reinvested again to achieve even more.
For our borrowers, I would suggest that their major success is felt in achieving their objectives, which in many cases relate to growth of the business and that magical word profit. With many though, and especially the social enterprise sector, success will almost certainly be linked to more than profit – to a double or even triple bottom line.
Success can be measured in many ways but one thing is clear, it feels better to be celebrating success this season in the UK than drowning sorrows in ‘bite-size chunks’ in Brazil!
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