Last week saw PwC become the latest major corporation to begin referring SMEs to the Funding Circle marketplace. But Funding Circle has also been building relationships on a more localized level. Rushcliffe Borough Council has just become the 10th council to utilize the platform in order to fund local businesses. It’s called the Local Business Lending Partnership – and is designed to foster economic growth and employment in the Rushcliffe area. The Council will lend up to £500k via the platform.
“Funding Circle investors have lent over £60 million to small businesses in the Midlands in the last four years alone. This partnership with Rushcliffe Council will allow us to help even more of the Borough’s businesses.
“Rushcliffe is the tenth council to use the Funding Circle marketplace to boost lending. We strongly believe this network will evolve to create a blueprint for an equivalent 21st century regional banking network.”
The practicalities of the new arrangement are as follows. Funding Circle carries out its usual checks on any loan-seeking business. If passed, the loan is then listed on the marketplace. Rushcliffe Council selects the local businesses that it wishes to lend to, the amount it wishes to lend and the interest rate – much the same process that regular Funding Circle investors go through.
Rushcliffe joins the Councils of Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire, Camden, Kirklees, Sefton, Newcastle and Tandridge in lending to businesses via the Funding Circle marketplace. The pioneering platform is also financially backed by the British Business Bank – which has poured £60m into the marketplace so far.
Funding Circle has been gradually slotting together an intricate puzzle of strategic partnerships. The British Business Bank will doubtless continue to feed capital through the platform. Its regional relationships could become the future of local Council-led small business support. Recently established referral schemes with major institutions like Santander and PwC will help to keep the pipeline of borrowers flowing – and we wouldn’t be surprised to see more of these tie-ups appear before the year is done.
Funding Circle has been the UK’s most proactive platform in terms of setting up these sorts of arrangements. The platform is well on its way to establishing itself as an invaluable cog in the nation’s small business funding apparatus.