Inclusive Female-led Lender Approves £4M to UK SMEs in 12 Months of CBILS

  • Lending
  • 23.03.2021 02:26 pm

A year since it was awarded CBILS lender status, responsible lender, AskIf, can now reveal it has approved close to £4m to deserving SMEs and micro businesses, playing an essential role in the national push to help businesses survive and thrive. AskIf has delivered on its mission to be an inclusive lender with 17% of CBILS loans distributed to BAME-owned businesses, and 22% to female-led businesses.

AskIf, founded in 2016 by Samantha Bamert, has worked with a variety of businesses from family-run food manufacturers, business consultancies, construction companies and even children’s nurseries on accessing CBILS. Priding themselves on an approachable and human application process, AskIf works personally with the borrower; learning about their business, their journey, present challenges and future concerns.

Birmingham’s Moonstone Day Care are one of those organisations, receiving a £100,000 CBILS loan in November 2020. Director Kerrie Ann-Wynter commented on the significance of the funding: “The number of children attending our nurseries dropped dramatically, so our income fell. We were very sure that we would gradually see children returning, but seeing our cash reserves shrinking was very stressful at times. We didn’t know whether we’d be able to cover our running costs every month as our outgoings remained high.

The CBILS loan provided reassurance for us, our families, and our team that we could continue to trade until the number of children in our nurseries returned to normal. It would be devastating for the local community if we were to close, CBILS helped us avoid it. The closure of a nursery can have a serious knock-on effect and can prevent parents from being able to go to work.

Samantha Bamert, Founder and CEO of AskIf, said: “We are committed to supporting businesses from across all communities in the UK and monitoring our reach to identify areas where we can improve diversity amongst our borrowers. Having the opportunity to make such a difference over the last year with CBILS has been nothing short of humbling; we have been in the trenches with our borrowers. It is an experience our lending team will take long into their financial careers.

A year on from the launch of CBILS the Funding XChange Lending Monitor for 2021 reports that some funders are doing a disservice to UK businesses by defining sector exclusions, where some industries, such as hospitality, are seen as too risky. Given that these businesses’ positive trading performance makes them ineligible for government-backed lending, many of these high-performing businesses have limited options to access funding. The AskIf approach considers the specific circumstances of businesses and individuals using real-time data to ensure the recovery of UK business and in doing so can reach the SMEs other lenders are unable to support.

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