ART Business Loans, pioneers of social finance in Birmingham, celebrate 21 years and announce new social investment campaign

L-to-R: Dr Nick Venning, Ed Mayo, Dr Steve Walker

ART Business Loans (ART) welcomed Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, as the keynote speaker at its 21st AGM this September.

Ed Mayo talked about the value of Community Development Finance to the economy and the importance of community economic development. “The process of working with local people makes a real difference,” he said. “We are seeing new values-based movements growing as the public sector steps back. This is relevant in terms of the economy and Brexit, because we’re going to have to encourage entrepreneurship and see real bootstrap development.” He continued: “It’s tough to be a non-bank in the lending market, but ART started with an idea about what it wanted to achieve, and the impact it wanted to make — and can now tell some inspiring stories about the difference it has made to thousands of businesses.”

Ed Mayo, along with community finance activist Pat Conaty, a co-founder of ART, helped research and write the influential community finance report Small is Bankable, published in 1998 by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

ART’s chief executive Dr Steve Walker, said: “We are on track to lend £2.5m this year, but have the capacity to lend up to £4m. When we launched in 1997, we were supported by true social investors — whose only return was knowing the impact that their investment had had on the local economy. In addition, we are now also able to offer a financial return in the form of Community Investment Tax Relief and will be looking to raise at least £500,000 from individual and company investors in this financial year.”

ART’s Chair, Dr Nick Venning DL, announced: “Twenty-one years ago ART pioneered a model of raising money through social investment to be lent locally. We are now about to launch another pioneering campaign to raise money from investors looking to use their money to achieve a social as well as a financial return. This will be via the Ethex social investment platform.” 

Anyone interested in the investment opportunity can register to find out more on the ART website or by sending mail.

Birmingham UK. Freelance research, evaluation and policy consultant specialising in social enterprise and the third sector. I maintain the BSSEC blog and website

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