Aston Reinvestment Trust plans 45% increase in SME lending

SME lender Aston Reinvestment Trust is set to ease access to finance concerns for firms looking to grow by upping its investment levels by 45%.

The Community Development Finance Institution said there was a greater need than ever to ensure a steady flow of finance to companies starved of investment capital after having approaches to the banks rejected.

The trust has steadily increased funding to start-ups and more established SMEs during the last few years and now fuelled by fresh investment it is pressing ahead with its funding plans. The move could see an additional £2.4m being made available to fund growth plans in Birmingham and Solihull.

ART chief executive Steve Walker told the trust’s annual general meeting that its funding targets for 2012/13 had been achieved but now was the time to really move on.

“We have achieved our targets for lending, which have played an important part in helping to support business and create jobs. It’s been tough but there’s no reduction in ambition to start up new businesses and we have to be there to support that,” he said.

“We have good funding support from our partners and now we are planning for expansion and to increase lending by 45% over the coming year. It will be tough and risks will have to be taken but we are looking forward to the challenge of helping more businesses.”

He said he was keen to stress the support Unity Trust Bank had given to the organisation as without its backing then the trust would not be able to undertake its growth plan.

The trust also has agreements in place with Finance Birmingham – the funding arm of Birmingham City Council, together with the Fair Finance Consortium. Through these agreements the trust will look to support job creation initiatives put forward by fledgling businesses.

Mr Walker said the trust did not have a 100% success record when it came to its lending history but this was to be expected with any lender. He said the percentage of money lost in previous estimates was probably around 30%.

“We would like it to be lower but we take risks. If it was lower then we would need to ask if we were taking enough risk,” he said.

Last year the trust doubled its maximum loan size to £100,000, to meet growing demand, and this year it said it was responding to the needs of the local economy by making more money available to support enterprise.

ART was established in 1997 to fill in a gap in the market left by the banks.  The need for its services has increased rather than diminished over the years and it often lends alongside the banks.  

Firms looking for help can contact ART on 0121 359 2444 or visit www.reinvest.co.uk