Will financing local business growth through funding circle bring life back into our town

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Sefton Council and Funding Circle announced on the 4th April the launch of the Local Business Lending Partnership, a pioneering new scheme, to stimulate local economic growth and employment through improved access to business finance.

As part of the scheme, the council will lend £100K directly to businesses based in Sefton using Funding Circle, the UK’s largest online marketplace where people and organisations directly lend to small businesses.

The council will join the thousands of people in the North West already lending their money to small and medium sized businesses across the country.

A potential model for the future of small business lending across the capital, this pilot scheme will help realise the growth potential of Sefton businesses that are currently being stifled by poor access to finance.

Cllr Ian Maher, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Tourism, said: “I am delighted that we are able to offer this much needed support to Sefton businesses with loans of up to £10,000. It will also complement the new Business Growth Grants programme which can offer grants between £10,000 and £1m.

“Money like this can really help fuel the local economy and I would urge Sefton businesses to get in touch with the council’s Invest Sefton team for further details. This money could help local businesses for the future.”

David de Koning at Funding Circle added: “We’re beginning to see more and more interest from councils looking to use the Funding Circle platform as a way of boosting lending to businesses in their local regions. £7 million has been lent by five councils so far and we strongly believe this network will evolve over the next period to create a blueprint for an equivalent 21st century regional banking network. 77% of the thousands of businesses who have borrowed through us would come back to us first over a bank, proving the appetite out there for fast, fair and transparent access to finance.”

Sefton joins thousands of British people already lending their money to small and medium sized businesses across the country. The Government and other councils across the country (including Camden, Kirklees, Nottinghamshire, Gloucestershire, Lancashire and Leicestershire County Councils) have also signed up to lend money to businesses through Funding Circle.

Launched in August 2010, Funding Circle enables businesses to access finance independent of their banks, whilst at the same time British people can earn attractive, stable returns for the long-term. This process sidesteps the high street banks with businesses receiving finance in a matter of days compared to up to three months for a traditional bank loan. To date, more than £250 million of loans have been lent to over 4,000 small businesses across the UK. To be eligible, businesses must typically have a minimum turnover of £100,000 and have been trading for at least two years.

Once businesses pass Funding Circle’s credit assessment processes, their loan is posted on the marketplace. From here, investors choose which type of businesses to lend to, and bid the amount of money they wish to lend, and the interest rate they want to earn. Investors can bid small amounts, from as little as £20, on lots of different businesses to spread their risk.

To get involved in the scheme, businesses in the borough should contact Colin Hickey of Invest Sefton on 0151 934 4646.

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