Recognition for community loaners contribution to West Midlands economy

ART Business Loans receives major finance accolade recognising twenty-year contribution.

Birmingham-based Community Development Finance Institution ART Business Loans has been recognised for its 20-year legacy, supporting viable business propositions struggling to get access to finance.

The UK-wide Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards, delivered in partnership by Responsible Finance and the Citi Foundation, crowned an array of responsible finance providers from across the nation, covering areas from growth and sustainability to societal impact and resilience, with Dr Steve Walker, Founder and CEO of ART Business Loans recognised as the Responsible Finance Leader for 2018.

Taking place on Tuesday 20th March at Glasgow’s City Chambers, the two-day conference celebrated the achievements of responsible finance providers, whilst providing an insight into the entrepreneurial outcomes that the breadth of financial support has facilitated.

Supporting inclusive growth and survival for businesses across the West Midlands who have a viable business proposition but are unable to acquire backing from the banks, ART Business Loans has lent over £24 million to-date, with an average deal size of £40,000.

Arriving at the Innovation Birmingham Campus over four years ago, ART Business Loans has made significant progress in supporting the local economy as a source of funding to fuel innovation, entrepreneurship and prosperity, marking its 20-year anniversary at the region’s leading location for digital technology businesses last year.

Commenting on the award win and the development of ART Business Loans, Dr. Steve Walker, CEO said: “Any viable business should be able to obtain the financial access needed to survive and grow. At ART Business Loans, we are not only stimulating the creation and growth of a wide variety of exciting and innovative ventures, we are also helping to create jobs by offering our support.”

With over 29 years of experience at leading bank and financial services company Barclays, and sitting on various task and government forces, Dr. Walker has grown the finance provider to an organisation that now has a significant impact on the region’s economy, lending £2.4 million so far this year alone.

Dr. Walker added: “Being based at the Innovation Birmingham Campus provides the perfect setting for us, allowing us to be immersed in a thriving hub for innovation, containing over 160 businesses all striving for growth, prosperity and success. It’s our job to make these aspirations a reality whenever we are able to and also support the wider small business community across the West Midlands.”

The seven-strong ART Business Loans team focuses its cultural ethos around targeting those who have been traditionally deprived of opportunities, including under 25s, over 45s, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups, women and disabled individuals. At least 75% of the businesses that it lends to fall into these categories as it continues to provide business and social enterprise loans from £10,000 up to £150,000 in the West Midlands.

Dr Walker’s recent award success comes following the launch of a well-received industry report The Future of CDFI Business Lending, produced in collaboration with the University of Birmingham and the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship, which he co-authored with Professor Richard Roberts.

Published in March, the report culminates two years of research at the University of Birmingham, utilising contemporary developments in the financial industry to predict the future of Community Development Financial Institution funding, offering solutions as to how this could work in the most effective ways for all. The report is available to access and download here.