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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

 

You’re helping this whisky company go even further, one bottle at a time

small business present

Meet David Stirk, a whisky aficionado, author and dedicated business owner. After graduating with an Honors Business Degree, David went on to work in a few different whisky companies, and even wrote a book called ‘The Distilleries of Campbeltown’. However, despite loving the industry he was in, David found himself yearning to take control of the business and make his own choices.

In 2004, the opportunity arose to buy a fantastic cask of whisky, and it gave David the spark to start his own whisky bottling business, The Creative Whisky Company. Based in the beautiful Lowlands of Scotland, his business has gone from bottling 15 casks a year, to doing seven times that amount today. As with any growing business, things can change over the years, however at The Creative Whisky Company, one procedure has remained: every cask they bottle is ‘nosed and tasted’ by David and his business partner.

The whisky industry is a large and competitive market. To invest in more stock and continue growing, David and his team have borrowed more than £390,000 from Funding Circle investors since April 2017. ‘I’d been in an eight month period of waiting for a mortgage to come through on the buildings that we bought. I just thought, it’s time to try another avenue, so that’s when I went to Funding Circle and I was amazed with the speed and the honesty. Everything they said would happen, happened.’ said David.

In this short video, meet David and hear more about his passion for the whisky industry:

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 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.

A Christmas Carol – Small Business Present

Businesses across the country work hard all year round. To celebrate their devotion and their contribution to the economy, this festive season we’re presenting our very own Christmas Carol. Last week we looked at the history of small businesses, from medieval times to the early 1900s. Today it’s time for small business present, so read on to learn about the impact they have on today’s world and the trends that have helped them along the way.

Big business booms in the 1960s

Before we get to the modern day, it’s useful to look back over the last few decades to understand the changes that led us here. In the 1960s, small businesses were struggling. Television and globalisation were having a huge impact on the world, and big business was booming.

small business present

Piccadilly Circus at night circa 1960 – David Howard

Shoppers wanted to go to big supermarkets and buy the globally recognised brands they saw on TV. Local shops and independent producers struggled to compete, and their market share dropped dramatically. In everything from farms to finance, large corporate players bought out their smaller rivals, and manufacturing jobs were taken abroad for cheaper labour. Coupled with a thriving stock market and a flourishing electronics and information industry, more and more people moved from manual work to office-based roles.

Such was the preference for big business, even the term “small business” saw a decline. Business owners across the western world faced a squeeze, and starting your own enterprise was an increasingly rare thing to do.

small business present

This graph shows the use of “Small business” in English books over time

Entrepreneurs start their comeback

A career-minded office worker in the 1970s planned to become an increasingly important fish in a big corporate pond. However, as the 1980s progressed, entrepreneurs began to break out on their own once more. While some business owners desired independence and others were laid off, collectively there was a cultural shift away from corporate life, and entrepreneurship was a common aspiration once more.

Technology creates new opportunities

The 1990s saw the widespread adoption of home computing and the internet. Not only did this make it easier to run a business from your own home, entrepreneurs could access a global market at the touch of a button. By drastically reducing overheads, it lowered the barriers to entry for newcomers. Established businesses could now also compete on a more even footing.

small business present

Hewlett-Packard HP9000 Unix Workstation – Thomas Schanz

Adapting to a new world order

An advantage small businesses have always had is their adaptability. Without hierarchy and extensive processes, they are more nimble in responding to a changing marketplace. Employees also have more varied roles and skill sets, as they have to carry out multiple business functions with a smaller staff base. As the pace of change continues to accelerate through the digital age, savvy entrepreneurs can seize opportunities quickly. Large corporate firms, on the other hand, can be cumbersome to respond.

Faith in institutions, whether they are government, media, NGOs or corporations, is also at an all time low. The volume of opinion available today means they no longer hold the sway they once did, and scandal after scandal across every industry has destroyed the trust people once had.

Now customers are looking for alternatives. What they crave most is authenticity, and small businesses are ideally placed to step in. Whether they’re an IT provider or an artisan bakery, small businesses tend to be specialists. They have a natural authenticity as experts in their chosen field, allowing them to engage with their audience more genuinely. They can then appeal to a slice of the market that large companies will struggle to reach.

small business present

David from The Creative Whisky Company – a Funding Circle borrower

A golden age for entrepreneurs

These cultural and technological trends have led to an unprecedented boom for small businesses. Today there are 5.7 million businesses in the UK, an increase of 2.2 million since 2000, and up from just 700,000 a few decades ago. 99% of them are small businesses, showing the incredible impact they have on our economy:

  • Small businesses employ 16.1 million, 60% of private sector employment
  • Their combined turnover is £1.9 trillion, 51% of private sector turnover
  • 76% are sole proprietors

A recent survey found that 84% of people who work for themselves are “more satisfied in their working lives”. Less than 5% of owners plan to close their business down and move back to a more traditional job.

Even the political uncertainty of events such as Brexit have not dampened the rise of entrepreneurs. Over 400,000 new businesses have been created in the last two years, with 67% saying that they are expecting to see an increase in turnover during the next 12 months.

Along with the new opportunities in digital marketing and management, new sources of funding are helping small businesses thrive. Online lending and crowdfunding give entrepreneurs better access to the funding they need. This not only helps them get started, but allows them to grow and become more resilient to changing economic times.

Added together, it truly is a golden age for entrepreneurs and small business. Long may it continue.

Check out the rest of our Small Business Christmas Carol

Read our first chapter on the history of small businesses, then complete the journey with Small Business Future, looking at the trends shaping their future.

 

Refining your lending experience

At Funding Circle, our aim is for you to earn attractive, stable returns by lending directly to creditworthy businesses. To help you achieve this, we wanted to let you know about an update we are making to how we set interest rates for businesses. We’re also introducing a small change to how the projected returns displayed for our Balanced and Conservative lending options are calculated.

Providing borrowers with a more tailored experience  

The interest rate paid by businesses currently depends on two factors; the length of their loan and the risk band assigned to them following our robust assessment process. This means businesses are only offered one of six different interest rates depending on their assigned risk band. In order to provide businesses with a more personalised experience, next year we will begin to increase the range of interest rates we set for borrowers within each risk band.

This change will have no impact on the projected returns you can earn through our Balanced and Conservative lending options, or the estimated bad debt rates for each risk band. We will let you know if these projected returns change via the Lending Settings page of your account.

Refining how we display projected returns

Currently, the projected return shown for either the Balanced or Conservative lending options is the median estimated return, after fees and bad debts but before tax, across all investors using that option. As you lend to your own individual portfolio of loans your own personal estimated return (found on your Summary page) may be higher or lower.

The median shows the lowest projected return that 50% of investors can expect to earn by lending through that option. We want more investors to experience a higher personal estimated return than the overall projected return, so we are refining the calculation. It will now show the lowest projected return that 65% of investors can expect to earn by lending through that option.

The two illustrative charts above demonstrate this, by showing the distribution of projected returns for an example group of investors using the Balanced lending option. The green shaded area shows the percentage of investors in the group whose personal estimated return is equal to or higher than the displayed projected return.

Following this update, and taking into account the current mix of risk bands we expect to be funded on the platform, the projected annual returns after fees and bad debt, but before tax for both lending options will be displayed as:

  • Balanced – 7.2%
  • Conservative – 4.8%

It’s important to note that this change has no effect on your personal estimated return, the businesses you lend to or the estimated bad debt rates we expect investors to experience. You can see the full calculation here.

Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk and your actual return may be higher or lower. If you would like to discuss these changes further please get in touch.

Enjoy lending,

The Funding Circle team

ISAs, Brexit, and the 2017 Budget. November industry news

Fintechs take market share from the dominant high-street banks – Financial Times

In the third quarter of this year, net lending (that’s total lending minus repayments) to small businesses through Funding Circle was higher than the entire UK banking system for the first time.* During that time, over 1,700 British businesses were able to access the finance they need to grow and thrive. This is a great demonstration of the positive impact your lending is having on the economy. Together, we’re helping businesses reach their full potential and go even further.

UK peer-to-peer lenders plan to raise millions from ISAs – Financial Times

We’re really pleased to announce that we have started rolling out our Funding Circle ISA product to existing investors. With the Funding Circle ISA, you’ll be able to earn attractive, stable returns tax-free, while supporting the backbone of the UK economy. It also takes just minutes to set up your account. You can find out more about the ISA account, and register your interest if you are not currently lending through Funding Circle, here. More information can also be found in our FAQs, and blog. If you have any questions please get in touch. Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

What fax machines and floppy disks reveal about Britain’s productivity problem – The Economist

During the 20th century, productivity growth in the UK increased steadily, but in the past decade, it’s barely budged. Today, many tech companies are trying to change this by using technology, such as machine-learning and AI, which helps to speed up tasks and increase efficiency. By embracing the growing digital economy and saying goodbye to fax machines and floppy disks, businesses have the power to shake off this productivity standstill and encourage faster growth across the country.  

Budget 2017: Business jury give a thumbs up for helping hand for small firms – The Times

It’s clear that our British small businesses have a key role to play in helping to solve the productivity problem as well. If more small businesses are given the right financial support in order to invest in these new technologies, it would help them maximise their output and effectiveness. Additionally, news in the Budget that the Chancellor will bring forward the switch in business rates indexation from the retail prices index to the consumer prices index is welcome. This and the freezing of the VAT threshold at £85,000 for the next two years is a step in the right direction.

Funding Circle borrowers back joining European Free Trade Agreement post-Brexit – P2P Finance News

The Budget also revealed that a further £3 billion is being set aside for Brexit planning. As the negotiations continue, we asked thousands of small business owners for their views. More than half (57%) of business owners in the UK are supportive of joining the European Free Trade Agreement – or the ‘Norway Option’. It’s evident that this route is a priority within the business community and it’s important that we listen to ensure we achieve the best possible outcome for their success. Check out our blog for the full results and read more in the Financial Times.

London’s startups stress out over Brexit—and ping pong – Bloomberg

Ping pong, the national sport of FinTech, brings together tech companies from all across London for a night of excitement, nail biting action and of course, pure glory for the winner. Not only is the event good fun, helping to build strong company morale, it also highlights the importance of access to talent post-Brexit for FinTech firms with many of the competitors coming from all over the world. At Funding Circle, 30% of our teams are non-UK European nationals, so we were pleased the government provided certainty to EU citizens living in the UK last week.

* Data taken from Bank of England ‘Bankstats (Monetary & Financial Statistics)’ – Table A8.1 ‘Monetary financial institutions’ loans to non-financial businesses, by size of business’ under ‘Net loans (exc overdrafts). Bank of England banks account for at least 75% of the lending market.

A Modern Christmas: Festive experiences to enjoy this year

Don’t be a scrooge this Christmas! Local businesses are working harder than Santa Claus and his elves to make sure you make the most of the festive season. From the butchers and the florists, to the bakers and wine merchants, the business owners below know exactly what you need to have jolly and joyful Christmas experiences this year.  

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree!

No one knows the exact year that the first Christmas tree was brought into someone’s home, but it is estimated to be around 1510 AD – and the tradition carries on today in many countries across the world. Wreaths have also grown in popularity and decorating them can make for a festive and fun activity. Dried oranges, cranberries, ribbon and pinecones are just a handful of the items you can use. Pick yours up from Rocket Gardens, a DIY gardening company in Cornwall, who even supply handmade edible wreaths made from bay leaves, rosemary and chillies! Rocket Gardens were able to scale up their business after borrowing across three loans since July 2016.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…

If you’re keen to get out of England and have a proper adventure this year, then you’re in luck! Incredible ski locations are just a short flight away, in countries such as Austria, Norway and France. Snowflakes falling, picturesque chalets, brightly decorated streets… Whether you’re here for the kids or on a nice getaway with friends, being in the mountains is the perfect festive break. Need the gear? Finches Emporium, a family-run sports store, will have everything you need to make sure you’re prepared for your snowy getaway. To support an advertising campaign, the Finches team borrowed through Funding Circle in May 2014.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Are you with the little ones this year? Then we suggest going to wander through a magical winter wonderland on your way to visit Santa’s Grotto at Bellflower Garden Centre, based in the heart of Suffolk. His elves have been working hard over the past few weeks getting everything ready to make sure it’s a truly special experience for everyone. In order to renovate some parts of the premises and purchase a new van for deliveries, Bellflower Garden Centre borrowed finance from 218 Funding Circle investors in November 2017.

All I want for Christmas is mulled wine

What better way to relax after a hearty meal than to have a nice warming cup of mulled wine? We’re not talking about the bottled stuff either… the best way to enjoy it is to make your own. All you need is a nice bottle of red, sugar, a cinnamon stick, nutmeg and a fresh orange – easy peasy. For a great selection of wines, check out Talking Wines, based in Cirencester, who source outstanding wines from passionate producers across the world. In order to increase stock, Talking Wines borrowed through Funding Circle in July 2013. Festive tip: make sure to have the Christmas tunes turned up and a cosy fire lit to create a truly joyful atmosphere.

Sugarplums and sweets

Since we’ve already got you in the kitchen, why not whip up some homemade gingerbread men as well? Making these gingery treats is the perfect activity to share with the whole family. They’re easy to make, have minimal ingredients and taste just like Christmas! We all know that a gingerbread man isn’t complete without gumdrop buttons, so before you get started, take a trip to Fanny Adams Sweet Shop in Kingswinford and you’ll find just what you need and more. To help open a new shop and hire more staff, the fantastic sweets shop borrowed through Funding Circle in December last year.

Happiness and all the trimmings

And finally, one of the finest holiday traditions has to be enjoying a delicious dinner in the company of all of your loved ones. Can this meal be complete without turkey? We don’t think so. Allington Farm Shop, a family-run farm shop and café based in Wiltshire, sells locally sourced and free range turkeys that are sure to be a winner with your guests. But don’t forget to prepare some mashed potatoes, seasonal garden veg, bread pudding and cranberry sauce before you dig in! To help expand their butchery, Allington Farm Shop borrowed from 618 investors in May 2014.

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 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.