Launched in 2012, the Wales Micro Business Loan Fund managed by Finance Wales has invested over £10 million in 390 start-ups and established businesses over the last five years; safeguarding or creating some 2000 jobs across Wales. The fund has increased from £6 million to £18 million during that time.
Backed by Welsh Government, the fund has invested in 390 start-ups and established businesses over the last five years; safeguarding or creating some 2000 jobs across Wales. With the support of Welsh Government, the fund has increased from £6 million to £18 million during that time.
Those to benefit include designer shoe retailer Bibi Shoes, securing £25,000 from the Finance Wales Micro Loan Fund following the opening of their first store in Cwmbran in late 2016. Owner Myriam Hassan has used the investment to fund the purchase of stock and a point of sale system.
Economy Secretary Ken Skates said:
“The Welsh Government is proud to support the Wales Micro Business Loan Fund and has trebled its investment in the fund from £6m to £18m. The fund was established to assist companies with less than 10 employees to access the funding they need to get their businesses off the ground and prosper and grow.
“It was developed to fill a recognised gap in the market and five years in it is great to see the impact it is having on businesses and social enterprises the length and breadth of Wales.”
The Micro Business Loan Fund was created in 2012 as a direct response to the report of the Micro-Business Task and Finish Group, led by Institute of Directors Wales director Robert Lloyd Griffiths, which emphasised that access to finance is a key barrier to growth. The Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) manages part of £1million of the fund to support social enterprises.
A new online fast track process was introduced in January 2017, offering a streamlined two-day application process for £1,000 – £10,000 micro loans for businesses that have traded for over two years. 67 businesses have benefited from the new fast track process to date.
As the Wales Micro Business Loan Fund celebrates five years of supporting Welsh businesses, Robert Lloyd Griffiths, Director of IoD Wales says that access to finance is a key priority for Welsh business owners:
“Finance Wales is listening to the needs of the business community; backing small businesses in Wales with access to finance that is simple and quick. The feedback I have had from businesses who have accessed the fund tells me that it has made a big difference to their growth and sustainability.
“I am particularly pleased to see such geographical and sector diversity in terms of the numbers of businesses helped by Finance Wales over the last five years. The micro-business sector represents some 97% of the Welsh economy; a can-do approach to funding is therefore a vital, dynamic and integral part of our economic success.”
Finance Wales Micro Loans Fund Manager Nicola Edwards adds:
“We exist to help small businesses thrive. From the purchase of stock and new equipment, new premises or acquisitions, we have helped hundreds of Welsh businesses over the last five years to fulfill their potential with micro loans that provide much needed capital when it is most needed.
“With dedicated portfolio managers and regional offices around Wales, we have an openminded and commercial approach to investment that is very much tailored to meet the needs of business.
“In fact, it is this approach that resulted in the development of our fast track process and an increase in the application threshold from £5,000 to £10,000. We’ve seen a direct increase in take-up as a result which is very pleasing.
“Quick, local decision making is critical to our success with many clients really valuing the collaborative approach that we have when working with other Government bodies, lenders and advisors like Business Wales and the Federation of Small Businesses.”
Finance Wales is a highly experienced, award-winning investor who has been backing Welsh SMEs for 15 years. Further information on finance for businesses can be found at www.financewales.co.uk