BCRS Small Business Loans celebrates its 10th anniversary this April, by making £10 million of loans to small businesses in the Black Country and Staffordshire.
BCRS was founded as the Black Country Reinvestment Society in 2002 to provide finance to local businesses turned down by banks. Lending from £10,000 to £50,000, BCRS has recently assisted its 400th customer.
Paul Kalinauckas, BCRS Chief Executive said: “When we set up as a co-operative small business loan fund ten years ago, I don’t think anyone imagined making over £10 million of loans. However the credit crunch in 2008 and the subsequent contraction in lending to micro businesses by the banks led to increased demand for our services. Our sole purpose is to provide access to finance to enable local businesses to grow and prosper and I can honestly say that we have done that and will continue to do so. It is predicted that there is still going to be a finance gap for small businesses seeking funding for at least the next five years. The government has recognised the risks involved in relying on bank lending as the sole source of finance and I am confident that we will lend at least another £10 million in the next three years.”
“There is a lot we can do to help local businesses out there and we are looking to connect with them as their local business loan fund. The BCRS model is of an approachable lender and we assess each individual case on its own merits. We operate very much with a traditional lending ethos rather than impersonal computerised credit scoring and recently achieved 100% in a customer satisfaction survey.”
BCRS has also established Small Business Loan Funds to increase access to finance in defined geographic areas, in conjunction with Local Authorities in Dudley, Sandwell, Staffordshire, Stoke on Trent and Walsall. It plans to raise its lending limit to £100,000 this year and expand its geographic coverage. A recent government report stated that the availability of credit needs to increase as the economy recovers and diversity of sources of funding for small businesses is needed as the impact of capital adequacy rules affecting banks will fall disproportionately on smaller businesses, which tend to be seen as riskier and therefore have higher risk weightings.
Mr Kalinauckas added, “As we forge into the future, we look to continue to grow and serve the needs of small businesses with access to finance. We have strong management with a Board of local non-executive directors, an exceptional employee team, a remarkable reputation and a proven business model programmed for success. Our referral networks, including banks, accountants and finance brokers, through which we have built critical business partnerships, have been a major component of this success. As a not for profit distributing co-operative we are totally focused on the impact of our lending creating employment and wealth in our local communities. We look forward to the next 10 years.”