Healthy treats for everyone, thanks to your support

Michaela is the founder and owner of award-winning healthy lifestyle bakery, Arapina. The bakery focuses on reinventing Mediterranean cooking, specialising in free from and guilt-free treats.

After finishing university, Michaela went straight into work. It wasn’t long before she became bored and found herself dreaming about running her own business. Being an avid home baker herself, Michaela began trading in food markets in 2013 with one single product – the Arapina chocolate cake. Her delectable treat was an instant hit, and she started to receive requests from wholesalers. Demand kept growing and there quickly became a need to relocate into a larger premises. Shortly after, they moved into an industrial kitchen between Greenwich and Deptford.

The bakery was minimal and there was a need for funding to refurbish the premises. Michaela came across Funding Circle through an advert on social media and decided to take a loan in May 2017. “I found that I could communicate with them. They understand the mindset of an entrepreneur and that really helps” she said. Since receiving funds from Funding Circle investors, Arapina have doubled their turnover. “Without them we wouldn’t be in the position we are today”.

In this short video, meet Michaela and discover more about the exciting evolution of Arapina.

Are you interested in lending to businesses like Arapina?

Lend alongside 78,000 investors and support small businesses across the UK by signing up online today. You can use our investor information guide to help you get started and there are thousands of loans which you can be a part of, making it quick and easy to build a diversified portfolio. Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Make the most of your Easter break with friends and family

The long Easter weekend has arrived! If you’re stumped for things to do, we’ve pulled together a list of Funding Circle borrowers to help you make the most of the break.

Visit a chocolate factory

5 years ago NOMNOM moved into an abandoned chocolate factory in South West Wales. They found an extraordinary collection of chocolate moulds, and have been steadily turning them into hand-painted sculptures of edible art. At the old factory they now offer a range of experiences to go with their treats, including workshops to design, fill and paint your own chocolate mould. For something a little more special, indulge in their 5 course Easter feast or stay the night in the farm house. NOMNOM has borrowed £176,000 across multiple loans since 2016 to continue their growth.

Embark on a countryside walking tour

Like Christmas, Easter wouldn’t be complete without an unnecessarily long family walk. But are you bored of your usual route? Check out Shepherd’s Walks for a superb collection of guided walks, including in Northumberland and Cumbria. If guided tours aren’t your thing, purchase a handheld navigator with GPS and determine your own route in an area of your choice. Since July 2015, Shepherd’s Walks have borrowed £108,000 across 3 loans to keep up with company growth.

Feed the farm animals

If you find yourself in Leicestershire for the Easter break, head to Little Jack’s Farm in Bottesford. The family run business includes a children’s farm and a garden centre – fun for all the family. At the farm, you can feed a range of animals including sheep, rabbits and ponies. If the weather doesn’t hold up, there’s also an indoor play and crafts area for children. Little Jack’s Farm has borrowed £81,000 across multiple loans to expand the children’s farm and improve their facilities.

Create your own Easter egg hunt

We appreciate that a weekend away isn’t feasible for everyone. Instead, build the excitement at home by creating your own Easter egg hunt in your garden or nearby park. D&D Chocolates specialise in chocolate and confectionery for people with allergies to dairy, gluten and nuts. They also supply to hospitals and clinics so that children don’t miss out on a chocolate Easter egg. D&D Chocolates needed to purchase a larger chocolate moulding machine and a walk in refrigeration room to keep up with interest in their dairy free chocolate. Since September 2014, they have borrowed £24,000 across two loans.

Get your garden ready for Spring

Perhaps indulging in copious amounts of chocolate over a 4 day weekend isn’t your thing. Now it’s officially Spring (and about time too!) make sure your garden looks the part. Gardening Express has a great online store, with the perfect selection of Spring Flowering Bulbs to brighten up your flower beds. To boost seasonal buying power and cash flow, Gardening Express borrowed £157,900 in April 2016.

Are you interested in lending to businesses like these?

Lend alongside 78,000 investors and support small businesses across the UK by signing up online today. You can use our investor information guide to help you get started. There are thousands of loans which you can be a part of, making it quick and easy to build a diversified portfolio. Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Looking to expand your business?

More than 35,000 businesses in the UK have accessed finance through Funding Circle. You could boost your cash flow, refurbish premises, hire staff and much more. Check if you qualify for a business loan online in just 30 seconds.

Small businesses diversify funding. February industry news

Small businesses look to specialist lenders for loans – Financial Times

According to recent research by the British Business Bank, small businesses are diversifying their sources of funding away from the banks and seeking support from other avenues, such as online lending platforms. This shift shows that there is much more choice for available for small businesses today than there was only a few years ago, which is excellent to see. Business can now access fast, affordable finance online in a matter of days, without even leaving their homes. Read more about the report in the Telegraph.

Banks stress-test themselves but don’t say how they’ll support business – The National

Another recently published report, the Scottish Business Report, shows that little information is available on how banks are planning to support their small business customers post-Brexit. The report also looks at how bank net lending (which is total lending minus repayments) has significantly dropped following the referendum. In 2017, 30 of the UK’s largest banks lent £679 million to small businesses on a net basis, whilst investors at Funding Circle alone lent £600 million. This encouraging growth wouldn’t be possible without to your continued support, so thank you!

2017 was a record year for UK fintech investment – City AM

There was record venture capital investment in UK FinTech in 2017 with £1.3 billion invested in companies working in financial technology. This represents a rise of 150 per cent since 2016 which is a bigger increase than either the US or China. Globally, two of the biggest deals were for Transferwise and Oaknorth, both UK firms. Funding Circle, Interactive Investors and Monzo made up the rest of the top five biggest deals in the UK. This is encouraging as it shows the UK shaking is off concerns of a Brexit slowdown.

University of Huddersfield Lends to More Than 2,000 UK Small Businesses – Crowdfund Insider

In 2013, the University of Huddersfield became the first University to lend directly to businesses through a lending platform – and it continues to lead the way in this area today! Since then, the University has gone on to support over 2,000 UK small businesses through Funding Circle, including Ushiwear, a British clothing brand. Launched by husband-and-wife team Neil and Jilly Kapusi, the passionate duo were able to build on their success and go for growth after accessing finance through the platform. Read more on our blog.

The Sunday Times Best 100 Companies – The Times

To finish up, we were delighted to be named 16th in The Sunday Times Best 100 Companies. We’ll leave it to our UK MD and co-founder, James Meekings, to summarise: “Even though we now have 800 employees, we still feel like a small business. We still push for opportunity and for people to be creative.”

Your March Review – Insight and Analysis

Last month you and other Funding Circle investors lent over £113 million to UK businesses to help them grow and develop. Dive in below for your monthly analysis.

We’re also very proud to announce we are 16th in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For 2018. You can see the full list here.

In February, you and other investors helped over 1,700 UK businesses take new opportunities and reach their goals — thank you for your continued support!

Meet our Collections and Recoveries Team

Our aim at Funding Circle is for you to earn stable returns when lending directly to businesses. Dive into our Q&A with Andrew Jackson, Head of Collections and Recoveries in Europe, to find out how the team has evolved over the years to ensure the best possible outcome for you and other investors.

These graphs show the most recent activity on our platform.

You’ve helped more than 10,200 small businesses access finance in the last 6 months…

Totalling over 678 million lent

February 2018 sector breakdown

Amount lent to each sector

February 2018 regional breakdown

Amount lent to each UK region

LoansDefaultedLastWeek

As part of lending to businesses, a small percentage will not be able to fully repay their loan. This is known as bad debt and is a normal part of business lending. We believe diversification, where you lend no more than 1% of your total to each business, is the best way to reduce the impact this has on your return. Our automatic lending tool will help you diversify by splitting your investment across lots of businesses. We suggest lending £2,000 or more, so you can lend to at least 100 businesses, with no more than 1% going to each one.  

Each week, we publish a list of the loans being defaulted on the Customer support section of our website under ‘Announcements.’ To see a breakdown of the loans defaulted last week simply click on loans defaulted 1st March 2018  For further information on why Funding Circle defaults loans you can read our FAQ here.

Collections

HowItWorks

You can also read more about how our collections and recoveries process works (part one and part two) on our blog.

Up next in March we’ll be looking at the impact your lending is having on the UK economy. We’ll also bring to life some of the businesses you’ve helped access finance.

As always, if you have any questions or comments our dedicated team are here to help. And if you have any suggestions we’d love to hear them.

Enjoy lending, the Funding Circle team

*Data from CEBR report

This blog is a general summary, and should not replace financial advice tailored to your specific circumstances. Funding Circle is not authorised to, and does not, provide investment, tax, legal or regulatory advice. If you have any questions, please speak to your professional advisor or seek independent specialist advice.

Meet the Collections and Recoveries team, who help keep your returns healthy

At Funding Circle our aim is for you to earn stable returns by lending directly to businesses. With any type of lending, your capital is at risk and it’s normal for some businesses to be unable to repay their loans. We call this bad debt, and we expect a certain percentage of it to occur each year.

When a business falls behind with their repayments, our Collections and Recoveries team will work closely with them to achieve the best possible outcome for investors. We spoke with Andrew Jackson, who heads up the team, to find out more about how Collections and Recoveries have evolved over the past few years.


Andrew joined Funding Circle in 2013

Hi Andrew, thanks for speaking with us today. A lot has changed since we brought Collections and Recoveries in-house in early 2014.  What does the team look like now?

In the beginning it was just a part-time colleague and myself handling everything. Now we have more than 20 people in five specialist teams:

  • The Loan Servicing team deals with borrowers who are on time with their repayments, but may have queries or requests such as asking for statements of account or settlement figures.  
  • The Business Advisory team carries out portfolio monitoring on the whole of the loan book. They look for warning signs and work with borrowers to find ways to keep payments on time.
  • The Collections team deals with missed payments. They know as soon as a direct debit is cancelled, or 3 days before the due date if a direct debit bounces.
  • The Recoveries team deals with any loans where the borrower or guarantor has entered a formal insolvency process, or that are defaulted.  
  • Last but by no means least, the in-house Recoveries Litigation team carries out our legal work, with the help of an external panel when required. Bringing litigation into my team in 2016 enabled us to work faster and cheaper in commencing bankruptcy proceedings, obtaining security and commencing legal action.

We also work closely with external tracing agents, private investigators, surveyors, insolvency practitioners, turnaround experts and lawyers.

How has the approach of the team changed since 2014?

In the early days we were testing out new approaches and ideas, which set us apart from the usual strategies taken by banks. We found our approach seemed to work much better than industry expectations, and resulted in lots of positive feedback as well as recovering more money for investors.  

You mentioned your strategies are working? What results have they had?

We’ve seen exceptional performance over the past few years. Moody’s (the ratings agency) have published reports suggesting that we should get 30% lifetime recovery on our asset class*. However, we have seen significantly higher results, and we predict that will continue. Over the last few years, investors have consistently earned returns on average between 6-7% per year after fees and bad debt.

The difference with Funding Circle is that we don’t give up on borrowers simply because they are going through a rough patch. Entrepreneurs are a tenacious bunch. They learn from their mistakes, get back on their feet, and start new businesses – and it is from those new ventures where we see a significant portion of our recoveries. I think businesses understand this.

When we explain our policies to them they often agree that they are fair – even those who we believe are not being as cooperative as they could be. When we explain to them why we have reached that conclusion they tend to see things from our perspective, and then work alongside us in a much more open and honest way.

Thanks Andrew, we appreciate you taking the time to speak with us!

You can learn more about how the Collections and Recoveries process works at Funding Circle with the blog posts below:

Bad debt, defaults and why not to be afraid of them

How our collections process works (part 1)

How our collections process works (part 2)

How long does it take to receive recoveries?

Alternatively, if you have any questions please feel free to get in touch.

Enjoy lending,

The Funding Circle team

*Frank J. Faboozi, Handbook of Finance, Volume 1: Financial Markets and Instruments: v. 1, (J. Wiley & Sons, 2008)

February’s Lending Impact and Borrower Stories

In this month’s lending impact, find out how our partnership with Huddersfield University has helped UK businesses grow and develop. Next, meet the founder of Bristol Bicycles in our case study video and finish by discovering five Funding Circle businesses to keep you in the winter Olympic spirit.

GreatMonthFor

The University of Huddersfield has lent to over 2,000 UK business through its partnership with Funding Circle. In 2013, the university became the first to lend directly to businesses through the platform.

The partnership has created many opportunities for students through entrepreneurship scholarships. One of the many businesses to benefit from the university’s lending is Ushiwear, a British clothing brand owned by husband and wife, Neil and Jilly Kapusi. Read more on our blog.


Meet Jake, the founder of Bristol Bicycles. Ten years ago, Jake launched his own business, offering an affordable and high quality bicycle workshop. A few years on, Jake began designing and manufacturing his own line of bicycles and in 2015 launched Bristol Bicycles.

To support the growth of his business, Jake received expert coaching from Gary, a Business Coach at ActionCOACH. Having worked with Funding Circle for over 18 months, Gary recommended finance through Funding Circle to help boost cash flow and expand Bristol Bicycles further. Watch the case study video to find out how this partnership has allowed Jake to achieve his business goals.

Get into the Olympic spirit!

Last Sunday marked the end of the 2018 Winter Olympics, but the fun doesn’t have to stop there! We’ve put together a list of five Funding Circle borrowers to keep your spirits high. From synthetic ice rinks to ski and snowboard gear, all of these businesses were able to expand thanks to your lending. Dive in here.

January’s Lending Impact and Borrower Stories

In case you missed it, here’s last month’s post. In January’s lending impact we introduced the founder of Arapina and listed five businesses to help you stay in shape in 2018.

Up next

At the beginning of March we’ll publish our Insights and Analysis blog to review February’s activity, including statistics from across the platform and helpful tips to make the most of your investment.

As always, if you have any questions or comments our dedicated team are here to help. And if you have any suggestions we’d love to hear them.

Enjoy lending, the Funding Circle team

Get into the Olympic spirit!

Last Sunday marked the end of the 2018 Winter Olympics, with a dazzlingly choreographed closing ceremony in Pyeongchang. It’s been a real treat with some epic moments, but the fun doesn’t have to stop there.

We’ve found five Funding Circle borrowers who can help you carry on living the Olympic adventure.   

Hit the slopes

What better way to follow in your heroes’ footsteps than to book a luxury skiing holiday in the Alps? Ski Morzine have fully catered and self-catered chalets superbly located in the Portes Du Soleil. Not only will you have access to the full range of ski slopes and runs, but your evenings will be as comfortable as it gets – with free WiFi, sauna and even an ‘in-house cinema’!

Funding Circle is Ski Morzine’s preferred source of additional funding when looking to expand their portfolio of chalets.

Try something a little closer to home

The Olympics were great, but not everyone has the time to whisk themselves away to the Alps for a week. Fortunately, there’s plenty of opportunities to get involved here in the UK. Take Ice-Magic Ice Rinks, who have been supplying and renting synthetic ice rinks for the past 14 years. Maybe your upcoming event could do with something different? Perhaps an adrenaline-filled ice hockey match for your next company bonding? You could even recreate Torville and Dean in your back garden! If ice skating isn’t your forte, they also manufacture and hire curling lanes – they’ve even supplied one to Team GB! Whatever you’ve got in mind, these guys have you covered.

Look the part

Whether you’re at home or abroad, if you’re getting involved with winter sports it’s important you’ve got the right gear. Finches Emporium, a family-run sports store, have everything you need to get kitted out for the slopes. If snowboarding is more your thing, then Snowtart are one of the few South East-based snowboarding specialists outside of London.

Finches borrowed through Funding Circle in May 2014 to support an advertising campaign, while 171 investors lent to Snowtart to help them expand into international sales.

Wind down with a winter warmer

After a full day on skis, boards or skates, what better way to regale your friends with your exploits than over a bottle of organic sloe gin? Bramley & Gage offer different varieties of great-tasting spirits, gins and liqueurs. Their Six O’Clock Gin has won numerous national and international awards. To purchase a new gin still and increase their distilling power, the business has borrowed £65,000 over 2 loans since 2013.

Are you interested in lending to businesses like these?

Lend alongside 78,000 investors and support small businesses across the UK by signing up online today. You can use our investor information guide to help you get started. There are thousands of loans which you can be a part of, making it quick and easy to build a diversified portfolio. Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Looking to expand your business?

More than 34,000 businesses in the UK have accessed finance through Funding Circle. You could boost your cash flow, refurbish premises, hire staff and much more. Check if you qualify for a business loan online in just 30 seconds.

A thriving bike shop, thanks to you and ActionCOACH

Following his passion for bikes, 10 years ago Jake Voelcker took a leap and launched his own business: Jake’s Bicycles. His friendly and approachable workshop in the heart of Bristol offers affordable and high-quality service for all levels, from occasional riders to sports enthusiasts.

After a few years of strong growth, Jake saw the potential to inspire even more people to get into cycling. Through his experience servicing bikes and discussions with customers, he started designing and manufacturing his own line of bicycles with the goal to provide a comfortable cycling experience. In March 2015 he launched his own brand, Bristol Bicycles, entirely hand built and assembled in his workshop, offering the high attention to detail that mass production factories can’t replicate.

However, building a successful business is far from simple and external support was necessary to identify key focus areas. Gary, a Business Coach at ActionCOACH, has now been working with Jake for more than a year, providing guidance on how to develop the brand as efficiently as possible.

Based on the business evolution and Jake’s objectives, Gary quickly realised Bristol Bicycles needed a cash flow boost to grow. Having worked with Funding Circle for over 18 months, he did not hesitate to recommend us and was confident Jake would get a fast decision on his application.

Learn more about Jake and Gary’s experience using Funding Circle in the video below.

Since partnering in 2016, our relationships with the different business coaches from ActionCOACH has allowed many small businesses access more than £4 million in lending. We look forward to helping even more together in the years to come.

Are you interested in lending to businesses like Bristol Bicycles?

Lend alongside 77,000 investors and support small businesses across the UK by signing up online today. You can use our investor information guide to help you get started and there are thousands of loans which you can be a part of, making it quick and easy to build a diversified portfolio. Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Partner with Funding Circle

We work with a wide range of corporate and bank partners to help UK businesses access much needed finance. Email our Partnerships team at ukpartners@fundingcircle.com to find out how we can work together.

Lending directly to small businesses to create entrepreneurship scholarships

The University of Huddersfield has lent to over 2,000 UK small businesses through Funding Circle, thanks to a partnership where the University became the first to lend directly to businesses through a lending platform. Launched in 2013, the tie-up has created opportunities for students through entrepreneurship scholarships. Professor Bob Cryan, Vice-Chancellor at the University said: “I was originally drawn to Funding Circle because I felt that the platform’s innovative approach to investments and small businesses was a strong match to the ethos of the University.” 

Four years on, the University continues to lead the way in this area, having committed a further £1 million to the programme in 2014 after the initial investment of £100,000. One of the local businesses that has benefitted from the University’s lending is Ushiwear, a British clothing brand launched by husband-and-wife team Neil and Jilly Kapusi. The passionate duo were able to build on their success and go for growth after accessing finance through the platform.

Neil Kapusi, co-founder and COO of Ushiwear

“The capital injection from the University through Funding Circle has allowed Ushiwear to grow exponentially. We’re now currently in the process of a complete brand overhaul with everything from a new website, to a new shop, to new product lines. We’ve been able to invest in new equipment, boost our advertising and marketing and expand our team.” said Neil.

Are you interested in lending to businesses like these?
Lend alongside 75,000 investors and support small businesses across the UK by signing up online today. You can use our investor information guide to help you get started and there are thousands of loans which you can be a part of, making it quick and easy to build a diversified portfolio. Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Looking to expand your business?
More than 30,000 businesses in the UK have accessed finance from Funding Circle. You could boost your cash flow, refurbish premises, hire staff and much more. Check if you qualify for a business loan online in just 30 seconds.

Your February Review – Insight and Analysis

YourFebReview

Last month Funding Circle investors, like you, lent over £117 million to UK businesses to help them grow and develop.

Dive in below for your monthly analysis and read the latest blog by Simon Read, a personal finance expert. With extensive experience in helping people making the most of their money, Simon discusses saving for your summer holiday.

JanLendingFigures

Last month, you and other investors helped businesses to take new opportunities, create new jobs and drive energy into the UK economy. Thank you for your continued support!

FebLendingBlock

Read between the lines: Saving for your summer holiday

Are the short nights and cold days making you want to book a holiday away in the sun? Dive in for Simon Read’s top tips for ensuring you can plan and save efficiently for the holiday you’ve been dreaming of.

MonthyTrends

These graphs show the most recent activity on our platform.

You’ve helped more than 9,700 small businesses access finance in the last 6 months…

 

FebVolume

Totalling over £650 million lent

 

FebValue

January 2018 sector breakdown

Amount lent to each sector

FebSector

January 2018 regional breakdown

Amount lent to each UK region

FebRegion

LoansDefaulted

As part of lending to businesses, a small percentage will not be able to fully repay their loan. This is known as bad debt and is a normal part of business lending. We believe diversification, where you lend no more than 1% of your total to each business, is the best way to reduce the impact this has on your return. Our automatic lending tool will help you diversify by splitting your investment across lots of businesses. We suggest lending £2,000 or more, so you can lend to at least 100 businesses, with no more than 1% going to each one.  

Each week, we publish a list of the loans being defaulted on the Customer support section of our website under ‘Announcements.’ To see a breakdown of the loans defaulted last week simply click on loans defaulted 2nd February 2018For further information on why Funding Circle defaults loans you can read our FAQ here.

Collections

HowItWorks

You can also read more about how our collections and recoveries process works (part one and part two) on our blog.

Up next in February we’ll be looking at the impact your lending is having on the UK economy and bringing to life some of the businesses you’ve helped access finance.

As always, if you have any questions or comments our dedicated team are here to help. And if you have any further suggestions we’d love to hear them.

Enjoy lending, the Funding Circle team

*Data from CEBR report

This blog is a general summary, and should not replace financial advice tailored to your specific circumstances. Funding Circle is not authorised to, and does not, provide investment, tax, legal or regulatory advice. If you have any questions, please speak to your professional advisor or seek independent specialist advice.

Read between the lines: Saving for your summer holiday

We regularly bring you a column from Simon Read, a personal finance expert with extensive experience in helping people make the most of their money. In his last piece, Simon looked at the cost of Christmas.

If you’re like me, the depressing weather at this time of year will make you want to have something good to look forward to – a holiday in the sun! And knowing that in a few months you could be sitting poolside sipping a cocktail, or exploring that old ruin with the sun in your eyes, is a good way to help cope with the shorter nights and rainy days.

But assuming you want – like me – to have a fantastic summer holiday to look forward to, the question is, how to pay for it? The easiest and most convenient way is to simply put it on the credit card. You can worry about paying for it later but, if you’ve been sensible, you’ll have a piece of plastic that gives you cashback or loyalty points. If you’re splashing out a couple of grand on a decent holiday, think how much cashback that’ll net you!

But, and it’s a big but, if you don’t pay off credit card debt right away, you end up being stung by high interest. And that could mean putting your dream trip on plastic proves a costly mistake. If you can’t pay off the whole amount in one go, you could box clever by opening a card with a 0% deal and transferring the debt to that. However, that’s not taking account of the balance transfer fee. Many cards charge 3% for that so if you transferred £2,000 you’d have to pay out £60 for the privilege.

So maybe sticking the holiday on a credit card is not such a good idea. In fact it’s a lousy one. The simplest and easiest way to pay for a holiday is to plan for it. You know you’re going to go away in the summer so start saving for it months ahead. In fact the best way to pay for a holiday is to have a regular savings habit into a holiday account. Work out how much you plan to spend on your breaks each year and stash a 12th of the total away each month.

That should mean that paying for trips is painless. But it does mean planning; not just planning your saving but also your spending. You know when you have big costs coming up, annual insurances or council tax for instance, as well as holidays. Your saving plan should take account of your spending needs so that you can cope with big costs without having to dip into the red or use an expensive credit card.

In other words, think about what you’re saving for in 2018. For long-term savings you want to find the best possible return on your cash, which will mean being happy about making the most of peer-to-peer opportunities, or bonds. But for short-term savings where you know you will need the cash in a matter of months, you should keep it in an account that is easy to access. That will mean sacrificing decent returns for paltry ones, but is the price you have to pay.

Sorting savings into short-term and long-term is a good way to start a sensible savings plan.

That’s especially important as it means that once you’ve accounted for all your short-term needs, for holidays and bills and so on, the rest of the cash you have available to put in a nest egg can be used to get better returns. And that will leave you laughing all the way to the river bank or beach, depending on your chosen holiday.

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not represent those of Funding Circle. Funding Circle is not authorised to, and does not, provide investment, tax, legal or regulatory advice.

The information and views contained here are provided solely for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal, tax, regulatory, accounting or investment advice, or as a recommendation or an offer or invitation by Funding Circle.

To the extent permitted by law, Funding Circle does not accept any liability for any loss or damage which may arise directly or indirectly from the use of, or reliance on, such information contained here.

If you have any questions, please speak to your professional adviser or seek independent specialist advice.

January’s Lending Impact and Borrower Stories

JanInvestorImpact

This month’s lending impact is all about kick-starting a healthy new year. First, we meet Arapina, an award winning bakery offering guilt-free sweet treats made from all natural ingredients. Next up, get in shape with five Funding Circle businesses who were able to grow thanks to your lending.

GreatMonthFor

This month we’re proud to announce we took home 3 awards at the AltFi Awards 2017. This included the coveted Editor’s Choice Award, as well as P2P Business Platform of the Year and Best Clarity of Data. With your continued support, we strive to grow our success even further in 2018.

JanSuccessStory
Arapina

Meet Michaela, the driving force behind the award winning healthy lifestyle bakery, Arapina. Originally from Crete, Michaela grew up eating locally sourced, natural and healthy home cooked food. After moving to London, Michaela found it increasingly difficult to find sweet treats that satisfied both her vegan diet and her taste buds. As a result, Michaela, or “Lady M” as she’s known, set up Arapina to offer delicious guilt-free treats made from the best natural ingredients.

Since 2013, their mission has been to carve a path away from the sugary, artificial produce found in many bakeries and instead offer people a healthy, yet delicious, alternative. Originally, Arapina traded with only one type of cake – the famous chocolate Arapina. As the years progressed and crowds grew fond of Arapina’s delectable delights, they decided to expand their menu. Today, their decadent cakes and desserts cater for all dietary requirements, including dairy free, gluten free and vegan recipes.

Thanks to your continued support, Michaela and the team were able to purchase new equipment after relocating into their own production and retail unit.

Stay tuned as we’ll be bringing you a behind the scenes case study video very soon.

Yoga, Pilates or Bodybarre? How will you stay in shape in 2018?

It’s that time of year when the decision to become fitter is top of everyone’s to do list. Many of the world’s most well-known and successful entrepreneurs consider yoga, pilates and other forms of exercise as an essential ingredient for their continued success. Head to our blog to discover five businesses to help you get in shape this year. All of these businesses were able to achieve their goals thanks to your lending.

December’s Lending Impact and Borrower Stories

In case you missed it, here’s last month’s post, where we met the founder of the Creative Whisky Company in our latest case study video and took a tour through small business past, present and future.

Up next

At the beginning of February we’ll publish our Insights and Analysis blog to review January’s activity. This includes statistics from across the platform and helpful tips to make the most of your investment.

As always, if you have any questions or comments our dedicated team are here to help. And if you have any suggestions we’d love to hear them.

Enjoy lending, the Funding Circle team

Yoga, Pilates or Bodybarre? How will you stay in shape in 2018?

The decision to become fitter is usually top of people’s new year’s resolutions and for good reason. Many of the world’s most well-known and successful entrepreneurs consider yoga, pilates and other forms of physical fitness as an essential ingredient for their continued success. These 5 local businesses are helping the UK get in shape, so where will you start?

Record your every move at Be X Fitness

Established in 2013, this Barnsley-based fitness center offers team workouts using high tech equipment so you can get the most out of your workout. Thanks to My Zone, the connected tracking technology, users can record their every move, analyse performance and receive personalised training advice from coaches.

running-shoes

To support growth, Kevin Yates applied for a business loan through Funding Circle in November 2017. They accessed £106,000 in less than one week, meaning they could take on the next opportunity quickly.

Physio by Pea Green to keep you energised

Stephanie Smith launched Oxfordshire-based Pea Green Physio back in 2008. Eight years on she decided she wanted to expand into yoga and pilates and needed a business loan to open a studio. Pea Green now offers yoga and pilates classes alongside sports massages and rehabilitation therapy after raising £25,000 through Funding Circle.

yoga-park

Rediscover fitness with Paola’s Bodybarre

Forget what you know about traditional fitness classes and embrace Paola Di Lanzo’s multidisciplinary workout methods. From light sessions focusing on technique, alignment and flexibility, to high intensity training and weight-lifting, the wide range of classes will help you find the exercise you’re looking for. After opening her first studio in Fulham in 2014, Paola’s BodyBarre is now available in 7 other pop-ups, affiliated studios and private members clubs around London. Paula expanded the business with a £53,000 loan to open a new flagship studio in Sloane Square.

Paola's Bodybarre Studio

Yoga gets you in the right headspace

The meditation classes at London-based Yogacentric are said to improve your mental focus by connecting your mind and body. If meditation isn’t for you and you’re looking for something more active, try their hot yoga or one to one sessions. All levels are welcome.

yoga-outside

Daniel Percival came to Funding Circle in 2016 as he wanted to grow his London studio. He secured £53,200 over 5 years to finance working capital and the fit-out of a second location.

Keep moving at Alderley Pilates

Jan and Peter Bowen founded their pilates business in Cheshire 15 years ago. The studio brings talented teachers and enthusiasts of all levels together in a friendly and relaxed environment. All of their trainers are certified by Body Control Pilates, the largest European professional pilates’ organisation.

pilates-workout

Alderley Pilates first came to Funding Circle for a business loan in 2014. Finance from Funding Circle has helped them refurbish their premises and upgrade their website to grow the business.

Are you interested in lending to businesses like these?

Lend alongside 76,000 investors and support small businesses across the UK by signing up online today. You can use our investor information guide to help you get started. There are thousands of loans which you can be a part of, making it quick and easy to build a diversified portfolio. Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Looking to expand your business?

More than 32,000 businesses in the UK have accessed finance through Funding Circle. You could boost your cash flow, refurbish premises, hire staff and much more. Check if you qualify for a business loan online in just 30 seconds.

A helping hand to small businesses. December industry news.

Peer-to-peer lender shows how it’s done – Evening Standard

Happy new year! To date, you and other investors have helped a network of 40,000 businesses access $5 billion of finance globally, which has created an estimated 100,000 new jobs. This growth also saw Funding Circle become the first lending platform in the world to have facilitated more than $1 billion across two markets. None of this would have been possible without your continued support over the years, so thank you!

Brighton named ‘most enterprising’ UK city – Brighton and Hove Independent

To better understand the mentality of small business owners, we recently launched a survey which found that more people living in Brighton (64%) believe they have the right skills to set up a business than anywhere else in the UK. Christine Johnston, Brighton-based founder of The KiTE, SURF & SUP Co and Funding Circle borrower, said: “These results reveal what those of us who have set up businesses in Brighton have known for years. It’s not just the infrastructure that makes Brighton such an appealing place to start a business, it’s the type of people that gravitate towards the city and the culture that’s been created as a result.”

A helping hand for small businesses – MoneyWeek

Even a decade after the credit crunch, too many British small businesses still feel their potential is being hindered by a lack of access to suitable finance. Raising awareness of other avenues of finance available, such as borrowing directly from investors through lending platforms, is crucial for their development. When small businesses flourish, thrive and go even further, so does our economy. Read more about how the online lending sector is lending a helping hand to small businesses in the Independent.

The UK’s ‘alternative finance’ industry is now worth £4.6 billion – Business Insider

In 2017 alone, the UK’s alternative finance industry generated £3.3 billion of funding and grew by 43% from the previous year, according to a report from the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance. Of that funding, a whopping three-quarters went to start-ups and small businesses across the country, which is a 50% increase from 2015. It’s hugely encouraging to see that as the adoption of the sector continues to grow, more and more business owners and investors benefiting as a result.  

A brave new world: will open banking boost the UK FinTech sector? – Forbes

As some of you may know, Open Banking was designed to enable bank customers to authorise third parties, such as challenger FinTech players, to access their account details in order to create more competition and choice in financial services. Not only will this allow individuals to choose where they bank more easily, but it will also incentivise developers to create innovative apps from the new data streams, such as dashboards that list all your financial products in one handy place. Whilst the full potential of Open Banking is still unknown, it’s clear that it has the power to completely transform the way we bank.

Players who swapped the bit parts for starring roles – The Times

And lastly, to finish up the final industry news roundup of 2017, we were pleased to see our CEO and co-founder Samir Desai be named as one of The Times’ Ones to Watch for 2018. At Funding Circle, we’ve never been more excited to see what the future will bring, and we hope that you will continue on this journey with us. Together we’re creating jobs, supporting local communities and driving the economy forward. Here’s to a fantastic 2018!

News

Make the most of your lending experience

Here are some of our key tips to help you get the most from your lending experience as a Funding Circle investor.

Set yourself up to earn a more stable return

Data at Funding Circle shows that investors who diversify by lending small amounts to many businesses are more likely to earn a stable return. To help illustrate this, the below chart shows the minimum annualised return earned by 95% of investors lending for at least a year, by the number of businesses they have lent to.

The chart shows that 95% of investors who have lent to at least 100 businesses equally for a year or more have earned at least 4% per year after fees and bad debt. In fact, since 2010 every single investor who has followed this level of diversification has earned a positive return. (Data correct as of 1st October 2017).

Becoming diversified has never been easier, as our lending tool automatically lends no more than 0.5% of your portfolio (subject to a minimum of £20) to each business. We suggest building a portfolio of at least £2,000 to help you lend to at least 100 businesses.

Check your Lending Settings are right for you

When lending through Funding Circle you can choose from one of our two lending options, Balanced or Conservative. Both options will allow you to quickly and easily build a portfolio of creditworthy businesses depending on your personal preference:

  • Balanced – lend to the full range of creditworthy businesses, aiming to achieve an attractive, stable return.
  • Conservative – focus on businesses that have been assessed as lower risk, but with a lower projected return.

It’s important that the lending option you have chosen is right for you. You can review and change your chosen option in the Lending Settings page when logged in to your account. This is also where we will display the current projected return for each option.

Boost your earning power with the Funding Circle ISA

The Funding Circle ISA is now available to all current investors (as of 3rd April 2018), subject to eligibility requirements. The ISA works just like your Classic Funding Circle account, but the interest you earn is tax-free. This could provide you with a significant boost to your earning power. For example, if a higher rate taxpayer lends £20,000 through the Funding Circle ISA and earns a one-year return of 7.2%* after fees and bad debt, their post-tax earnings after one year could increase from £864 to £1,440.

If you haven’t yet opened a Funding Circle ISA, you can do so by logging in to your account. Tax rules and relief can change depending on your personal circumstances, and you can find out more about the features and risks of lending through a Funding Circle ISA here.

Recognise bad debt as a normal part of lending

When lending to businesses there will always be some who are unable to repay their loan. We call this bad debt, and we account for it when calculating projected returns. Bad debt is rarely spread out evenly over the course of the loan term, and tends to happen during certain periods of a loan’s lifetime. You can see this from the chart below, which shows the annualised return, after fees and bad debt, earned by an example investor over a five year investment period:

In our example, based on five years of loan performance data, an investor lent £10,000 across all the loans originated through Funding Circle in 2012. Each month, the loan repayments and interest received were lent to new borrowers.

You can see that in this example most bad debt occurred during the period marked as phase 2, but then reduced as loans continued to mature and recoveries arrived. You can read more about how returns can change over time in our blog, but the important thing to remember is that a decrease in your return due to bad debt is an expected part of the lending experience, and will typically stabilise as your loans mature. Remember past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.

Think long-term

A modest regular contribution and a patient approach can have extraordinary results. For example, if you start with £10,000 in your Funding Circle account and set up a standing order for £100 a month, after 30 years you could have an account worth over £200,000**. Find out more about setting up a standing order, or see how your own portfolio could grow over time with this compound interest calculator.

It’s important to remember that as you lend to your own individual portfolio of loans your return may be higher or lower, and by lending to businesses your capital is at risk. Tax rules and relief can change depending on your personal circumstances.

We hope these tips help you get the most out of lending to businesses through Funding Circle. If you have any questions about your account, please get in touch.

Enjoy lending,

The Funding Circle team

*The projected return is an estimate of what investors could earn on the Balanced lending option (as of 10th January 2017), after fees and bad debts, but before tax. It uses the loans we expect to be funded on the platform, and the estimated bad debt rate of those loans based on our all-time loan data. See the full calculation here.

**Returns are based on the annual projected return of 7.2% for investors lending through the Balanced lending option (as of 10th January 2017). Returns are compounded monthly and are after fees and bad debt but before tax. Based on this, an account worth £10,000 with a standing order of £100 a month would be worth £213,837.61. Returns are calculated using a compound interest calculator.  

Your January Review – Insight and Analysis

YourJanuaryReview

In 2017, we helped over 10,000 UK businesses borrow over £1 billion. This year we want to do even better, helping businesses and investors achieve their goals, create new jobs and drive the economy forward. Here’s to a great 2018! Dive in below for your December review.

DecemberLendingFigures

Last month, you and other investors helped over 1,400 UK businesses take new opportunities and reach their goals — thank you for your continued support!

LendingFigures

December highlight: Small business infographic

Did you know there were more than 30,000 street sellers in London in the late 1800s? Was this the start of small businesses as we know them? In case you missed it, take a tour through small business past, present and future in our shiny new infographic.

MonthyTrends

These graphs show the most recent activity on our platform.

You’ve helped more than 9,300 small businesses access finance in the last 6 months…

Volume

Totalling over £630 million lent

Value

December 2017 sector breakdown

Amount lent to each sector

Sector

December 2017 regional breakdown

Amount lent to each UK region

Region

LoansDefaulted

As part of lending to businesses, a small percentage will not be able to fully repay their loan. This is known as bad debt and is a normal part of business lending. We believe diversification, where you lend no more than 1% of your total to each business, is the best way to reduce the impact this has on your return. Our automatic lending tool will help you diversify by splitting your investment across lots of businesses. We suggest lending £2,000 or more, so you can lend to at least 100 businesses, with no more than 1% going to each one.  

Each week, we publish a list of the loans being defaulted on the Customer support section of our website under ‘Announcements.’ To see a breakdown of the loans defaulted last week simply click on loans defaulted 4th January 2018  For further information on why Funding Circle defaults loans you can read our FAQ here.

Collections

HowItWorks

You can also read more about how our collections and recoveries process works (part one and part two) on our blog.

Up next in January we’ll be looking at the impact your lending is having on the UK economy and bringing to life some of the businesses you’ve helped access finance.

As always, if you have any questions or comments our dedicated team are here to help. And if you have any further suggestions we’d love to hear them.

Enjoy lending, the Funding Circle team

*Data from CEBR report

This blog is a general summary, and should not replace financial advice tailored to your specific circumstances. Funding Circle is not authorised to, and does not, provide investment, tax, legal or regulatory advice. If you have any questions, please speak to your professional advisor or seek independent specialist advice.

 

Meet 4 innovative businesses shaping your future

It’s the final week of our Christmas Carol, celebrating the amazing contribution small businesses make all year round. So far we’ve looked at how to have a traditional Christmas, and amazing experiences you can enjoy this year. Now we’re looking to the future. Read on to find 4 innovative businesses that are shaping our future, all of which have been able to flourish thanks to your lending.  

Live like the Jetsons

Picture the scene, it’s Christmas Eve 2018. You arrive home and your driveway gates swoosh open as you approach. The driveway lights flick on, and as you approach your front door, the porch light comes on automatically to welcome you home. As you turn the key your hallway lights come on at just the right brightness level. The living room lights dim, the curtains automatically close, and your favourite music starts to play throughout the house.

innovative businesses

Nottingham based Design Innovation regularly set up such futuristic home automation systems. Owner Nick Gale has been working in the industry for twenty years. He expanded his business with a loan of £75,000 in 2014.

Building the latest gadgets

TechInvasion could solve all your present-buying dilemmas next Christmas. Established in 2008 with a passion for new functionality and cutting-edge technology, the company scours the globe for the latest and most useful gadgets. They identify the most innovative technology out there, and even work with inventors to bring new ideas to market.

innovative businesses

For the traveller in your life, how about the ‘Airbolt’, a Bluetooth enabled smart suitcase lock. Using GPS, you can see your luggage’s last location and set alerts remotely. You can also add a PIN to boost your security. Or the Rocketbook Wave – a traditional pen and paper notebook that instantly uploads your notes into the cloud using your smartphone. We’re ordering them for next year now! TechInvasion grew their business with a loan of £52,000 in September 2017.

Helping cutting-edge research

Andy, founder and CEO of Oxford Optronix, first built a machine over 30 years ago as part of his PhD Biomedicine studies. He now runs a business that pioneers the design, development and manufacture of sophisticated instrumentation for the life sciences.

innovative businesses

Oxford Optronix now employs fourteen staff, and supplies specialist machinery like the HypoxyLab, a ‘contamination-free’ workstation to enable cutting-edge tissue culture research. They’re innovations could help make serious advances in illness treatment – a fantastic Christmas present indeed. Oxford Optronics are another amazing business that’s been able to progress thanks to your lending. They funded their manufacturing growth with £247,000 over 3 loans.

Building a sustainable future

On Christmas Day in the future, the energy for those twinkling fairy lights might not come from the National Grid, but a renewable energy source much closer to home. Gloucestershire-based consultancy Sustainable Direction Ltd is committed to helping communities generate energy locally, use their resources efficiently and reduce waste as far as possible.

innovative businesses

They’ve done ground-breaking work with the channel island of Alderney, helping the community replace their entire electricity generation system. The new sustainable, low-cost and more secure energy solution could soon be a template for other rural communities. Sustainable Direction was the first business to borrow through Funding Circle in 2010, and have been able to grow even further with a second loan of £54,000 in 2016.

Are you interested in lending to businesses like these?
Lend alongside 74,000 investors and support small businesses across the UK by signing up online today. You can use our investor information guide to help you get started. There are thousands of loans which you can be a part of, making it quick and easy to build a diversified portfolio. Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Looking to expand your business?
More than 30,000 businesses in the UK have accessed finance from Funding Circle. You could boost your cash flow, refurbish premises, hire staff and much more. Check if you qualify for a business loan online in just 30 seconds.

December’s Lending Impact and Borrower Stories

DecemberLendingImpact

In this month’s Lending Impact, we look into the past, present and future of small businesses in a Funding Circle Christmas Carol. There’s also our latest case study, where you can meet the founder of The Creative Whisky Company, and finally discover six Funding Circle businesses that will help you get in the festive spirit this year.

ChristmasCarol

Whatever the season, small businesses work harder on any given day than Mr Claus on Christmas Eve. To celebrate their hard work and determination, we’ve created our very own Christmas Carol, looking at the past, present and future of small businesses. We begin with the small business past, looking at the history of small businesses, and how they adapted during the industrial revolution. Next up, dive into the small business present and learn about the impact they have on today’s world and the trends that have helped them along the way. Finally, discover what the landscape might look like for businesses in years to come in our small business future.

DecemberSuccessStory
CreativeWhisky

In our latest case study video, meet David, founder of The Creative Whisky Company. The business was set up in 2005, bottling 15 casks of whisky a year, and today bottles seven times that amount. Although the business has grown significantly, one tradition remains the same; every whisky is “nosed and tasted” by David and his business partner to make sure it’s up to scratch.

A modern Christmas: festive experiences to enjoy this year

Local businesses are moving faster than Rudolph and Blitzen to help you make the most of the festive season. From the butchers and florists, to the bakers and wine merchants, these business owners know exactly what you need to have a joyful Christmas this year. Read more here.

November’s Lending Impact and Borrower Stories

In case you missed it, here’s last month’s post. We met Amy, the Director of The Strings Club, discovered the most read article by our business and community and listed five Funding Circle borrowers to prepare you for the Ashes.

Up next

At the beginning of January, we’ll publish our Insights and Analysis blog to review December’s activity, including statistics from across the platform and helpful tips to make the most of your investment.

As always, if you have any questions or comments our dedicated team are here to help. And if you have any further suggestions we’d love to hear them.

Enjoy lending, the Funding Circle team

A Christmas Carol – Small Business Future

It’s the week before Christmas, and while Santa and Rudolph are taking all the headlines, we’re celebrating the amazing work small businesses do all year round. In our Christmas Carol so far we’ve looked at small business past and present, now for the final chapter we’re looking at the future. Read on to find out what the landscape might look like for businesses in the years to come.

The return of the masters

Large corporate players have come to dominate the retail market over the last century. However, as they strive to be unbeatable on choice and price, by having such a vast offering they can’t compete on specialist knowledge.

small business future

Consequently, small retailers and manufacturers with local knowledge or specialist offerings are making a comeback. Modern consumers are increasingly hungry for information about their products. They want bespoke, locally produced and sustainable goods. They want to know it’s well made and ethically sourced. As a result, they’re seeking out the specialist knowledge of smaller, independent retailers. Entrepreneurs that can show off their credentials are rewarded with repeat business and growing word of mouth, and carve out a niche where large retailers struggle to compete.

Technology that grows with your business

Not too long ago, having powerful data programmes was the reserve of only the largest firms. They required serious investments of time, capital and staff, and gave the big players a competitive advantage that was out of reach to small businesses.

small business future

 

Now that landscape is changing rapidly. SaaS companies (Software as a Service) and other platforms are democratizing big data capabilities, opening them up to everyone. A small business can take a basic price plan with a limited feature set, then steadily add more options as they grow. They provide enterprise standard infrastructure at an accessible cost. Businesses can then enter new markets and compete on a local, national and international level. As more platforms emerge, small businesses will have fewer limitations and can grow faster than ever before.

Building global brands

Alongside the changes to internal business systems, social media and digital marketing are creating new opportunities to reach customers. Free to set up and simple to use, social media allows small businesses to reach a global audience. Once a luxury for those with big budgets, they can now build brand awareness campaigns to grow their reputation. With a variety of social channels that appeal to different audiences, social media will be an essential tool for long-term growth and short-term sales.

small business future

Businesses can use hashtags and trending topics to reach new customers interested in their field. They can also keep existing customers engaged so they keep coming back. Millennials want to feel informed and involved, not marketed to. So, whether it’s sharing your latest product on Instagram or announcing a limited offer on Twitter, engaging customers through social media will help small businesses thrive.

Alternative finance goes mainstream

Already worth £4.6 billion in the UK alone, the “alternative finance” industry is helping more businesses get the funds they need to grow. Crowdfunding is helping businesses get off the ground, while online lending platforms are giving them the finance to grow.

These new funding streams give businesses access to capital at the point they need it. Whereas banks can be slow to respond, online lending platforms can process applications in just days. This allows businesses to respond quickly to changing demands or new opportunities, making them more resilient.

small business future

In Q3 2017, more net lending was done to small businesses through Funding Circle alone than the major high street banks combined. As the growth of the sector continues, small businesses will have access to faster, more reliable funding to pursue their ambitions.

AI and bots will fill the gaps

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a computer’s ability to think for itself. It uses information given previously to make decisions, imitating our own ‘human’ cognitive functions. Machine learning is an application of AI that enables computers to learn for themselves as they receive more information.

Why is this important? Typically at small businesses, there are a small number of staff performing lots of different roles. Everyone has to wear multiple hats to get everything done. However, if machines can imitate human thinking, they can start handling some of those business functions, freeing up time and resource.

small business future

In the near future an online chatbot could handle all your customer service queries. Open up your normal messenger apps like Whatsapp or Facebook and it could take orders and recommend products. It could even forward documents and even give installation tips. Many will still want to provide a personal service, but AI can help fill the gaps and compliment their existing service.

As discussed in our look at Small Business Present, it’s an exciting time to be an entrepreneur. With consumer habits evolving and technology creating new avenues in marketing, funding and systems, the future of small businesses is packed with opportunities.

Check out the rest of our small business Christmas Carol

Read the first part on the history of small businesses, and our look at the life and impact of small businesses today.