In 2015-16, ART lent £3.2m to just under 100 businesses in the West Midlands and has delivered over £900k of loans in the first quarter of this financial year, to the end of June 2016. All ART loans are made after a bank decline, although the developing trend is for loans to be made after a bank has already assisted to its maximum with ART loans used as a top up to meet the borrower’s overall need.
ART lends between £10k and £150k, with the average loan around £33,000. A wide range of sectors and types of business are being supported but most are seeking to achieve some form of growth.
“There is no doubt that the need for our type of lending remains strong,” says Steve Walker, Chief Executive of ART Business Loans. “A number of research reports and surveys published during the past year evidence that the gap in the business funding market for smaller loans is increasing. The stage reached by businesses seeking ART’s support is changing so that, although some are relatively young, there are more established businesses looking to achieve growth and improve performance that are still in need of loan funding of the type ART offers. Despite the substantial growth in peer lending, the increasing difficulty faced by the banks in serving this area of the market has seen further expansion of the market gap faced by businesses.”
Investing in the local economy
Looking to increase the amount of money it has available to lend the ART Board and staff team are exploring options for funding from a variety of public and private sector sources, including opportunities to innovate and create new schemes. “Sir Adrian Cadbury, founding Chairman of ART in 1997, sadly passed away last year,” says Steve Walker, “and will be missed by all. He would, I feel sure, have welcomed our return to seeking private investors (individuals and companies) who are prepared to support the local business economy through ART, as we did at start up. At that time we could only offer a social return on investment. We are now also able to offer Community Investment Tax Relief, which is of financial value to investors - particularly those paying higher rate tax.”
Since it started in 1997, ART has enabled around 900 businesses in the West Midlands to create or protect almost 7,000 jobs. Businesses supported include Oaks Consultancy and Joanne’s Florist and Tea Room.
Oaks Consultancy offers business planning, transformation and fundraising expertise to the charity, education, physical activities and commercial business sectors. Brothers Adam and Mark Walker used an ART loan to employ more staff in their sales and delivery teams, which enabled the company to increase turnover by over 60% in a year.
Joanne McDonall always fancied running a tea room. She and her mother Joan were running a floristry business together when larger premises became available nearby allowing them to expand and include a cafe in their offer, It has proved to be a winning combination. Read more about these and other borrowers on ART’s website.
To find out more about investing in ART, or apply for a loan, see www.artbusinessloans.co.uk or call 0121 359 2444.