I admire people who seek finance to start, fund, maintain or grow their business. They have taken on something they believe in and or have the courage to fight for survival and grow. I’ve been there myself. These days perhaps you might say I changed sides as I mostly raise money for others.
Actually, it’s great to see someone get what they need and make it work. It’s also why I came to the North East of England 11 years ago, to help bring cash in for the entrepreneurs and businesses.
So the last 5 months, from bidding in April to taking on the £6.5m Micro Loan Fund at Rivers Capital (my sister business) in September was very satisfying. Public funds are a lot of work and Rivers has taken on four new staff to move this fund forwards.
Rivers now has the job of investing, or lending £2.5m of remaining capital in 14 months. It will lend to over 200 businesses from the North East of England. They already manage some 300 plus loans out there with the first £4m of lending. This is special as it can also lend when banks turn you down.
Let’s look at that for a minute. Regional lending figures are now available from the Bank of England and indeed Lloyds Bank has a great interactive graphic where you can look up lending they have done. For example in quarter one of 2014 they lent just over £1bn in the North East region to SMEs.
On a smaller scale, as the above will have some bigger businesses at the top end of SME’s in its numbers; the Micro Loan Fund operated by Rivers can invest in existing businesses with a few restrictions. There is also the Startup Loan project operated in the NE by PNE which can lend to new starts as long as the business is less than a year old.
For sums over £50,000 there are NEL and FW Capital offering loan and mezzanine (loans with some extra profit share and some equity element).
Then of course there is Funding Circle who effectively match lenders (you and me the public) to businesses who can pay a loan and are well enough established. The list goes on… I haven’t space here to name them all.
So the next time I hear a small business tell me they couldn’t find a loan or a lender in the North East of England, forgive me if I am well, disappointed that they might not have looked hard enough. Business is tough but the people I have met since Rivers took on the Fund prove to me the determined get the cash and make it work. They don’t complain or talk about it too much, they just do it.