New name for community financier as lending grows

ART business lending rises by 77%.

Community finance organisation the Aston Reinvestment Trust saw total lending rise by 77% to over £3.1 million in the year 2014-15. This continues a significant trend that started in 2012 and demonstrates that there is an appetite among businesses across the West Midlands for borrowing and investing in the future.

ART is a Community Development Finance Institution which lends to businesses unable to meet any or all of their requirements from the banks. In fact it often lends alongside the banks as part of a package of finance. Its loan fund comes from a combination of public and private sector support including social investment from individuals and companies keen to see the local economy thrive, creating and protecting jobs.

“Packages of finance are becoming increasingly common, with a number of providers sharing the risk,” explains Steve Walker of the ART business loans team. “We lend £10,000 to £150,000 with an average loan size of around £30,000. Other lenders specialise in either larger or smaller loans and it makes sense for us to work together.

“At a time when the variety of options for finance available to businesses can seem confusing, ART is seeking to clarify its position and make it easier for potential customers to see whether its type of finance is right for them. “

He added: “We are changing our name and launching a new, more interactive, website. The new name, ART Business Loans, will make it more immediately apparent what we do. We lend across the West Midlands, in every business sector.”

In the past year ART has seen an upsurge in demand from established businesses wanting to achieve growth.

Looking forward to a busy year ahead, the experienced ART Business Loans team, based at Innovation Birmingham Campus in Aston, is anticipating further growth. “We sense optimism among businesses,” says Steve, “and we are here to support them in their plans. We make a personal assessment of loan applications, offer advice and signpost to other lenders where appropriate.

“Many of our borrowers take advantage of the opportunity to repay us early, with no penalty, and find that a loan from ART enables them to leverage further finance or refinance after a time.”