An Aston Commission, set up years ago, had several findings; one was that people in the area were unable to get bank loans to start or improve businesses because they had no form of security to offer.
To address this, a revolving fund – the Aston Reinvestment Trust [ART] – was established. When loans are repaid the money can help another business and profit is reinvested in the company.
Over the years it has created or retained more than 4000 jobs in the city.
Originally lending to businesses and social enterprises operating in the most disadvantaged areas of Birmingham, including Aston, ART now covers Birmingham and Solihull.
ART has a different business model. Its aim is not to maximise profit for shareholders, but to support the local economy and enable its borrowers to create or preserve jobs.
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Recently, ART helped to set up Trade Counter Supplies
Ian Bruckshaw was getting such poor service from wholesalers of fire, security and electrical equipment that he decided to set up his own business supplying a range of products – including electrical, fire, CCTV, security, access, extinguishing products, tools and emergency lighting – to both trade and consumers. After signing a lease and starting to fit it out, the bank halved the offered support. His accountant recommended an application to ART and after presenting the business plan, a couple of interviews, and filling in the forms, the loan was approved. One year on, the business, is thriving.
Steve Walker’s message to SMEs: “There is money available and we need the business community to have the confidence to use it to either start or grow their businesses in these challenging times.” Read more here.