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Share offer launched

A community share offer aimed at raising £500,000 from individuals and organisations to lend to businesses in the West Midlands has been launched.

The initiative, which will enable beneficiaries to protect or create local jobs, has been launched by Birmingham-based ART Business Loans in conjunction with positive investment platform Ethex.

Dr Steve Walker (pictured), chief executive of ART and Responsible Finance Leader of the Year, explained: “The money raised will be used to support business, enterprise and innovation by offering loans to viable businesses unable to access any or all of the finance they need from the banks. 

“Having access to appropriate finance will enable those businesses to invest in people, premises and equipment, and support growth or diversification. 

“Our current loan portfolio is over £5 million and we are seeking additional capital through this community share offer to enable us to lend even more to West Midlands businesses in the year ahead.” 

Shares in ART are eligible for Community Investment Tax Relief, which offers individuals and companies tax relief at 5% per annum of the sum invested over five years off their UK income tax or corporation tax.

At the end of that time the shares may either be withdrawn or reinvested in ART.

“In addition to receiving this financial return, investors will be putting their money to work for the benefit of the local economy,” said Dr Walker. 

“Research shows that there are many small to medium sized enterprises in the West Midlands, which remain unable to access appropriate finance to support their business plans, despite new alternative sources to the banks entering the market over the past 10 years. 

“Many of them have similar lending criteria to the banks, or are charging very high interest rates. We are all about providing responsible finance and bring our expertise to bear in making lending decisions.” 

The share offer opened on January 7 and can be taken up by either individuals or organisations. The minimum investment is £500 and the maximum £100,000. 

Lisa Ashford, CEO of Ethex, said: “Ethex believes that social enterprises and mission driven businesses can provide innovative solutions to address some of the biggest challenges that we face as a society, including addressing social inequality, building resilient communities and fighting climate change – they just need to be able to access the finance they need to scale and grow. 

“ART is providing a solution to address the lack of availability of finance for businesses and social enterprises in the West Midlands, by supporting their current investment raise people will be able to help boost the local economy, promote job growth in the region and also target a fair financial return.”

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