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Small Business Saturday: SMEs urged to tap into Birmingham’s £3m fund

Birmingham small businesses struggling to borrow from high street banks have been urged to tap into a £3 million fund established in the city earlier this year.

Launched in April, Birmingham Small Business Loan Fund (BSBLF) aims to lend £3m to Birmingham businesses over three years.

So far the fund, which has been created by ART Business Loans (ART), Birmingham City Council, ThinCats peer lending platform and Unity Trust bank, has lent almost £500,000 to ten businesses across Birmingham, while a number of other businesses are currently going through the application process.

And, speaking ahead of Small Business Saturday (2 December), Birmingham City Council leader Cllr Ian Ward today urged other SMEs across the city to contact ART.

He said: “Small businesses have always played a huge role in Birmingham’s economy. From the days when this was the City of a Thousand Trades, right up to the present day, SMEs have created jobs and wealth in Birmingham. I’m delighted that Birmingham City Council is working with partners to help the entrepreneurs of 2017.

“Sadly, we know that many small businesses can struggle to secure borrowing, which is where the Birmingham Small Business Loan Fund comes in. I would urge any small business in Birmingham looking to access borrowing to contact ART.”

Businesses operating in Birmingham can borrow between £10,000 and £100,000 from the new BSBLF via ART. Loans can be used for any business purpose and are available to all market sectors, including retail. Repayment terms are from six months to four years and there is no penalty for early repayment.

Steve Walker, Chief Executive of ART, added: “We’re here to support enterprise and local jobs. Our average loan size is £35,000, a sum which it is particularly challenging for businesses to access elsewhere, but which can be vital to support cashflow, replace or repair equipment and enable growth.”

To apply for a loan go to or call ART on 0121 359 2444.


New loan fund helps KPM Marine to win significant naval contracts

A Birmingham precision engineering company, which specialises in the design and manufacture of safety critical products for the marine industry, has won a string of naval contracts thanks to support from the new Birmingham Small Business Loan Fund (BSBLF).

The BSBLF, which is administered by ART Business Loans and supported by Birmingham City Council, Thin Cats peer lending platform and Unity Trust bank, provides loans of between £10,000 and £100,000 for small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) in Birmingham that are unable to obtain any or all of the finance they need from high street banks.

KPM Marine was able to use a BSBLF loan to provide working capital to help it take advantage of growth opportunities presented by recent shifts in the value of sterling.

“We can find ourselves competing with some of the world’s largest manufacturers,” says Julian Morgan, Joint Managing Director of KPM Marine, “and we win contracts because we offer a unique product, or the best quality, or because we have the capacity to design and innovate quickly to create something which precisely meets a customer’s needs. 95% of our supply chain is based in Birmingham, which is not only good for the local economy, but it also gives us greater flexibility, faster response times and better control over quality than sourcing products and materials from the Far East.”

Julian’s business partner, Joint Managing Director John Key adds: “We moved into the marine sector around 15 years ago and have developed our product range to include bilge pumps, engine reventilation systems, shock-mitigating seating systems and interior fit out modules. We are delighted to have won naval contracts on both sides of the Atlantic and in Europe. Our latest success is as part of the supply chain providing a fleet of up to 38 workboats to support the Royal Navy’s new flagship carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.”

Birmingham City Council interim leader Ian Ward comments: “This is exactly what the Birmingham Small Business Loan Fund is about. Companies like KPM Marine have underpinned the Birmingham economy for generations but find it increasingly difficult to borrow money.

“Given the right support, our SMEs will create jobs and opportunities and I’m confident that the likes of KPM Marine will grow from strength to strength.”

Steve Walker, Chief Executive of ART Business Loans says: “KPM Marine is a good example of the type of business we are here to support – innovative and dynamic small to medium sized enterprises which are the lifeblood of the local economy, but which struggle to access finance from the banks.”

The BSBLF aims to lend £3m to Birmingham business over three years. To apply go to or call ART on 0121 359 2444.

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