More money has been given to a Birmingham-based community business lending fund in order to help it deal with an influx of demand as the recession makes it harder to attract people into the world of enterprise.
The Aston Reinvestment Trust (ART) was given additional funding from regional development agency Advantage West Midlands (AWM) in order to ensure that small businesses with viable propositions, which can’t get funding from the banks, are still able to access the finance they need.
After a quieter-than-expected first half-year in 2008 when its share of a £1 million top-up loan went unused, ART saw an unprecedented demand for loans at the end of the year, as the squeeze on the amount of finance available for small businesses through the banks tightened.
“We lent a record amount of £700,000 between July and December,” said Steve Walker, the chief executive of ART. “With support from AWM and Birmingham-based Unity Trust bank, we now have more than that amount to lend in the next six months.”
ART is an independent, not-for-personal profit organisation, set up nearly 12 years ago to lend to small businesses in Birmingham and Solihull which are unable to access the finance they need from a bank. Its remit is to support the local economy by helping borrowers to create local jobs and services for local people.
One recent recipient was indoor play specialists Scallywags, which unveiled a brand new £150,000 indoor play area measuring 8,000sqft at The Fort Shopping Park, close to the M6 in Birmingham towards the end of last year.
The opening came just weeks after the company’s play area at Dudley’s Merry Hill Shopping Centre reopened after undergoing an extensive £40,000 refurbishment.
“We lend to start-up and existing businesses for most business purposes, including temporary cashflow problems, capital investment and additional staff,” said Mr Walker.
“And we are delighted that we have been able to secure additional funding to support more businesses at this challenging time.”