New loan scheme to fund your business

A not-for-profit bank has opened in East London to provide financing to sole traders and micro-businesses (those with fewer than 5 employees), which do not usually qualify for loans from mainstream banks.

The new direct lender, called Street UK, hopes to attract businesses like window cleaners, restaurants and small shops and plans to have 40 branches open in the next 5 years. It offers loans and advice to fledgling businesses in under-developed parts of the UK.

Street has a fund of around £4.5 million and provides an average loan of £2,000 to qualifying start-up companies. The maximum term for an initial loan is 12 months, but a business can then return for a further increased loan after that.

Deputy chief executive Martin Hockly wants Street to support businesses that might otherwise use “inappropriate funding” such as credit cards or personal loans.

Hockly says the main criterion is that the applying company “must be trading”, but also points out it “must be legal too”. He adds, “We don’t require formal business plans and accounts.”

To apply, a business must call Street and complete an application form over the phone, which is then sent to the applicant for signing. The bank will then meet with the business to discuss the current and potential state of cash-flow over the next 12 months and develop a business plan.

The bank will then conduct due diligence into the business to ensure it is the sort of enterprise Street wishes to support and the business must provide a guarantor and 2 referees. Hockly claims the whole process can be completed in “just a few days”.

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