NatWest’s director of business banking for Birmingham Steve Brown has joined the board of ART Business Loans.

ART lends between £10,000 and £150,000 to businesses in the West Midlands unable to access any or all of the finance they need from a bank.

It saw a 77 per cent increase in loans delivered in 2014-15, showing demand for business finance in addition to bank lending is continuing to grow.

Mr Brown’s appointment continues NatWest’s track record of supporting ART since its launch in June 1997.

Steve Walker, chief executive of ART Business Loans, said: “Not only was NatWest one of the founding investors in ART, which was a pioneer community development finance institution when it started, but they have always had a representative on our volunteer board.

“We are delighted that Steve has agreed to join the board just as the CDFI sector is reaching a critical stage in its growth and evolution.

“A business may fail to meet the banks’ criteria for a variety of reasons, including that they have already borrowed as much as the bank is prepared to lend.

“We’re here to ensure that businesses with a viable proposition are not put at risk by being unable to access the finance they need.

“Our aim is to help them protect and create jobs in the West Midlands. To do this we often lend alongside partners, including the banks, to create a package of finance.”

Mr Brown, who heads a 14 strong business banking relationship management team, said he was looking forward to his new role.

He said: “ART’s sector of the market is new territory for me, so getting to grips with the issues and helping ART to continue to grow and meet demand will be an interesting challenge.

“RBS/NatWest has been a champion of the community finance sector for over 20 years and was a founding partner of the Community Development Finance Association in 2002, so I am also looking forward to strengthening the links between the bank and ART in Birmingham and to helping shape the future of the sector.”