Our History

History

BCRS Business Loans Limited was established by the local Co-operative Development Agency as the Black Country Reinvestment Society on 26 April 2002 and registered with the then Financial Services Authority as an Industrial and Provident Society, Register Number 29393R. We are now a Registered Society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 and renamed BCRS Business Loans Limited.

We were established as one of a number of new Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) across the country as a result of a government policy initiative – now known as Responsible Finance Providers.

Initially established as a social enterprise lender covering predominantly the Black Country sub region of the West Midlands, BCRS soon expanded our offer to include micro-enterprises and subsequently small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across the West Midlands.

In our early years, BCRS saw modest growth based around the provision of loans to small businesses, social enterprises and other organisations in the Black Country unable to access finance from traditional sources such as banks.

This was just the beginning…

From 2007 – 2010, BCRS experienced substantial growth with annual lending increasing to £2.3m across nearly 100 small businesses and a handful of social enterprises within the Black Country and Staffordshire. Individual loan values ranged from between £10,000 – £50,000.

Although BCRS had been successful in obtaining capital for on-lending from a variety of sources including Local Authorities, RDA, ERDF and Bank Loans to match fund capital grants we made a step change in the scale of capital acquisition with a bid to the Government͛s Regional Growth Fund (RGF). The Community Development Finance Association (CDFA), now known as Responsible Finance, had made a successful bid for £60 million and BCRS secured 20% of the Fund, £12 million, making BCRS the largest recipient in the sector.

By 2013, as the issue of access to finance had intensified following the global financial crisis, BCRS made £4.3m of loans in that year alone to almost 150 businesses across the West Midlands with loans available up to £100,000. This placed BCRS as one of the largest Responsible Finance Providers in the country providing over 65% of Responsible Finance lending across the West Midlands.

Additionally, our work was recognised through the Small Co-op – Big Achiever Award from Co-operatives UK.

In 2015 BCRS made loans of £6.5 million, its most successful year to date.

2017 was a very fortuitous year for  BCRS.  We were successful in our Tender for the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), which secured £17 million for lending to small businesses from the end of 2017 for a 5-year period.

In the same year, not only did we receive national recognition for the way in which we lead, manage and support our people by being accredited  as an Investor in People after surpassing the Standard for better people management set out by the body but we also the first lender in the UK to be awarded the European Code of Good Conduct for Microcredit Provision.

We were also very fortunate to win industry awards.

BCRS was announced as the winner of the prestigious ‘Small Business of the Year’ award at the Black Country Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards ceremony in November 2017.

In 2018 this was soon followed by being crowned the ‘Small Business of the Year’ at the Nachural Summer Business Ball in June 2018.

In late 2018, BCRS secured £7.5 million from the Community Investment Enterprise Fund (CIEF). This funding enables us to support more and more businesses for growth in the future.

Financial year 18/19 was a record-lending year for us with a lending amount total of £7.2 million.

In addition to securing £7.5 million last year from CIEF, this has now been ‘match funded’ by Eurpoe’s leading sustainable bank, Triodos making a total of £15 million investment boost in the last 12 months.

From June 2019 our team has now grown from 18 employees to 20! This has proved vital to the future growth and development of BCRS.

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