A new online matching service has been launched by the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (NACFB) in response to growing evidence that SMEs are still unable to access lending options that exist beyond the high street banks.
The website, findSMEfinance.co.uk, will help SMEs unlock finance from the broad spectrum of lenders in the UK – from high street and challenger banks to peer to peer and alternative lenders – via an independent broker.
NACFB currently works with 106 lenders in the UK, but new research from the organisation suggests that just six per cent of small businesses are aware of what’s available beyond the high street banks – or that SMEs can access those lenders via an expert broker.
The news comes after the recent launch of another web portal alternativebusinessfunding.co.uk which signposts SMEs to the most appropriate source of non-bank funding, while also helping the main banks in supporting rejected applicants.
This involves each organisation “recycling” rejected applicants to the site to access other potential non-bank funding sources.
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The seven organisations involved includes collectively, CrowdCube, Funding Circle, Market Invoice, Platform Black, Seedrs, Zopa and Pensionledfunding.com, all of which account for 85% of the alternative non-bank funding market and have provided in excess of £580m to SMEs to date.
The new findSMEfinance.co.uk website has been developed with the support of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, The Welsh Government and the Federation of Small Businesses. Its launch comes just days after Chancellor George Osborne launched a consultation on a referral process to help SMEs that have been refused finance to secure a loan elsewhere.
Marcus Grimshaw, Chairman of the NACFB, said: “Despite various lending initiatives and awareness campaigns to make it easier for SMEs to borrow, small businesses still face significant challenges when it comes to securing finance.
“The issue, however, is not availability of funds. It’s about awareness and access. Many SME lenders are specialists that don’t have a high street presence, so it’s difficult and time consuming for small businesses to track them down.
“We launched findSMEfinance.co.uk as a game changer for SMEs seeking finance. The website will help to bridge the gap between the many thousands of credit-worthy SMEs who want to borrow, and the wide range of lenders out there who are ready and willing to lend. It is a platform for change and a vital resource to help the UK SME community grow”