Updated: 3 September 2020
In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash, Funding Circle was founded in 2010 with a mission to build a better financial world. We set out to help small businesses get the funds they need to win by connecting them directly with investors looking to lend. This has been at the heart of all we do, driving innovations that have not just improved the service for those who use our platform, but have raised the bar for small business lending across the industry.
Now, 10 years on, the world is facing huge challenges once again, and that mission is more important than ever. The wave of recent government initiatives for small businesses shows the wider recognition that they play a vital role in our economy. They will be integral to the recovery too, and we’ll be right here, as always, to help them get the finance they need.
As we reach our 10th birthday, we want to look back at the innovations that have made our lending platform what it is today, and how they’ve helped thousands of businesses, investors and the UK economy along the way.
In 2010, small businesses weren’t getting the access to funding they needed. At the same time, there were many investors who were struggling to make good returns. We had a simple idea – let’s connect those with money to lend with businesses that are looking to borrow. On that simple premise, Funding Circle was born.
Businesses could now access the capital they needed quickly. That loan would then be funded by a community of investors, each lending small amounts, who would earn a return as the loans were repaid.
Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen how important quick funding decisions are for small business owners, particularly in challenging times. We’ve invested in technology and our internal processes, so we can provide fair and accurate decisions as quickly as possible. Today, many of our applicants can get an instant decision on their loan.
Improving our application process:
We want to be the long-term funding partner for our small business clients, so they can keep coming back to us for their funding needs.
Developments to help our existing clients include:
As the pandemic affected businesses across the UK, we moved quickly to be able to serve small businesses under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS).
Adapting to government loan schemes:
In 2010, small business lending was the domain of banks – it wasn’t something that the general public could get involved in. When Funding Circle was founded, we opened up small business loans as an asset class, making it available to all.
We’ve continued to invest in and evolve the experience for investors to protect returns. Some of our investor innovations include:
Total lending = £2 million
The first business to borrow is the aptly named Sustainable Direction, who focus on environmental and sustainability consultation. Founder John Henry borrowed £12,000 from 53 investors to help demonstrate the viability of an outdoor heat pump.
Total lending = £100 million. The Government owned British Business Bank starts lending through Funding Circle for the first time.
Moo Free, who manufacture dairy-free, gluten-free, organic and vegan chocolates from their base in Reading, borrowed £85,000.
Total UK lending = £4 billion. Lending through Funding Circle helped create or support 72,000 UK jobs and added £4 billion to the UK economy.
Strings Club is all about helping kids build their confidence and enjoy learning to play an instrument. To keep up with the growing popularity of her courses, founder Amy borrowed from Funding Circle to meet demand and expand her business into new areas.
“The loans allowed me to expand my business, hire new staff, buy more equipment and launch a marketing campaign. Overall, the experience was very efficient and very helpful”.
Total UK lending = £6.5 billion. 57,000 UK small businesses have financed their next step with a loan from Funding Circle. £300 million of this total was lent under CBILS.
Fashionizer, a bespoke hospitality uniform manufacturer, have taken multiple loans through Funding Circle in the past. In 2020, they took a CBILS loan to help them adapt to making face masks during the pandemic.
“I knew the service was fast and efficient, and I was delighted when I found out Funding Circle was offering CBILS loans. Our CBILS loan gives us the cash flow to keep our business going.”
We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved together over the last 10 years. As we begin a new decade, we’re looking forward to doing even more to help small businesses, protect investor returns and support the UK economy.
It’s important to remember that when taking a loan your business is liable for the full loan amount. The CBIL and BBL schemes provide a guarantee to the lender, not to the business.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) are managed by the British Business Bank on behalf of, and with the financial backing of, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The provision of CBILS or BBLS should not be construed as an endorsement or warranty of Funding Circle by the British Business Bank, or the government of the United Kingdom. British Business Bank plc is wholly owned by HM Government and is not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Full details on CBILS and BBLS and the list of participating CBILS and BBLS lenders can be found on the British Business Bank website.
All information is correct at time of publishing. While we want to help as much as we can, the information and documents found here are provided solely for informational purposes and should not be considered financial or legal advice. 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, the information contained here.If you have any questions, please speak to your professional adviser or seek independent legal advice.