Bank that offers loans with a heart
THE BOSS of a community funding bank has said more charities and community groups should be benefitting from his bank’s interest free loans scheme.
Guy Birkby, who is the interim chief executive at the Heart of Bucks, which administers Bucks Big Society Bank, says he thinks many groups are missing out on ways to fund their organisations.
Bucks Big Society Bank bank provides low-cost loan funds for smaller voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations in all parts of the county, and was developed in partnership with Community Impact Bucks and The Clare Foundation. It has lent tens of thousands of pounds since being founded in March 2011, following an initial investment of £75,000 from Buckinghamshire County Council.
Mr Birkby said: “There is a lot of money available at very cheap rates and we are keen to lend it to deserving organisations.
“We know there are about 4,000 charities in the county and yet, in the four years of the bank’s existence, only a very small number have taken loans.”
Mr Birkby, who was a senior bank executive for many years, added: “It’s a relatively easy process, so my message is for worthy groups to start applying now. I think this is a matter of awareness, so we are trying to vigorously get the message out there to alert charity trustees that this source of funding exists.”
Organisations eligible for funding need to be based in Buckinghamshire and be providing services or support just for local residents. The loans, starting from £1,000 to £30,000, may be used for a variety of purposes including equipment and premises cost. They could also be used as a bridging loan while the group awaits other funds.
There are no requirements for security or legal fees and it is an extremely cheap way of raising finance as groups pay no interest. The successful organisations do have to show they can service the debt and then pay an administration fee, charged on a sliding scale beginning at 4% and reducing to 1% by year four – and this is the only cost.
Martin Phillips, cabinet member for community engagement and public health, said: “We know our money has been put to great work by the organisations that have borrowed from us, and I now hope that many more people come forward to apply for funding.”
Call 01296 330134 or email Gbirkby@buckscf. org.uk.
LENDING A HAND: AYMP Manager Rob Shirley shows Heart of Bucks Chief Exec Guy Birkby & BCC’s Martin Phillips the ropes