It has just been announced that Dr Steve Walker, co-founder of ART Business Loans (ART) and chief executive since before its launch in 1997, has been named Responsible Finance Leader of the Year at the 2018 Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards.
The UK-wide awards, delivered in partnership by the trade association Responsible Finance and the Citi Foundation, celebrate the valuable work of responsible finance providers from around the UK, covering areas from growth and sustainability to society impact and resilience as well as leadership.
Steve was recognised for his contribution to the growth of ART and the Responsible Finance sector, his passionate championing of access to finance for enterprise, and the impact that ART has had on the economy of the West Midlands over more than 20 years.
Well known and respected throughout the business finance sector, Steve worked at Barclays for 29 years before helping to establish ART. Since then he has served on a number of committees and task forces informing local, regional and national government policy on access to business finance. He was made a Doctor of the University of Birmingham in 2007 in recognition of his work as a champion of enterprise in the City.
Since launching ART has lent over £24m to more than 1,000 businesses, enabling them to create or protect in excess of 7,000 jobs. Now based at Innovation Birmingham Campus, ART lends between £10,000 and £150,000 to viable business across the West Midlands that are unable to access any or all of the finance they need from the banks.
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 people with disabilities. At least 75% of the businesses that ART lends to fall into these categories.
Speaking at the awards ceremony in Glasgow on the 20th March Steve said, “I am delighted to receive this award, especially as the passion to support access to responsible finance and the passion of the entrepreneurs we look to support has been so evident during the evening. Any viable business should be able to obtain the finance it needs to survive and grow. It is deeply satisfying to us at ART to be able to play our part in stimulating the creation and growth of a wide variety of exciting and innovative ventures, helping our borrowers to create or protect jobs in the process.”
We congratulate Steve on this well-deserved recognition.