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Bucking the credit crunch: the most innovative community finance providers of 2011 revealed

16 December 2011
Photo of Ben Hughes

In these times of extreme economic uncertainty, and the disproportionate impact this is having on poor communities, the role of CDFIs in increasing access to finance is more important than ever before.

Ben Hughes, CEO, CDFA

Fourteen organisations lending money to businesses, individuals and social enterprises have been named as finalists for a new awards scheme celebrating innovation in community finance.

Access to finance is crucial for businesses and individuals to enable them to reach their potential and contribute to the UK’s recovery. But the tougher financial climate means many are struggling to get finance from high street banks and loan companies.

Increasingly, they are turning to Community Development Finance Institutions  (CDFIs), lenders who provide creative and innovative solutions to their business, social enterprise, and individual clients.

To recognise, celebrate and share this innovation the organisation which represents providers of community finance – the Community Development Finance Association (CDFA) – launched an Innovation Awards Scheme showcasing ‘best in class’ community finance.

Sponsored by Barclays, the awards attracted impressive entries from CDFIs all over the UK.

Steve Cooper, Managing Director, Barclays Business, said: “Social enterprises make a huge contribution to the local economy and it’s crucial that community finance is available for their development and growth.”

The shortlisted projects are:

  • Innovation in Marketing Award
  • Black Country Reinvestment Society
  • Five Lamps (Derby)
  • Lancashire Community Finance
  • UCIT (Belfast)
  • Innovation in Partnerships Award
  • Business Enterprise Fund (Bradford)
  • Donbac (South Yorkshire)
  • Foundation East  (Suffolk)
  • Northern Pinetree Trust (County Durham)
  • Innovation in Reaching New Markets Award
  • Isle of Wight Lottery
  • Impetus (North West)
  • London Rebuilding Society
  • The Key Fund  (Yorkshire)

Innovation in Technology Award:

  • GLE (London)
  • Street UK (West Midlands) 

 

The winners will be announced at a ceremony on 31 January, 2012 in Westminster where the CDFA will also launch a new vision for the community finance sector, JUST Finance: The Community Solution.

Developed with support from The LankellyChase Foundation, JUST Finance will outline how community finance, already so crucial to credit easing and micro-level economic recovery, can grow to offer Government and banks a solution to provide access to credit for more SMEs, social enterprises and individuals in deprived communities.

CEO of the CDFA Ben Hughes, said: “In these times of extreme economic uncertainty, and the disproportionate impact this is having on poor communities, the role of CDFIs in increasing access to finance is more important than ever before.”

CDFIs disbursed £23m worth of loans to micro enterprises and SMEs last year, creating and saving around 1,400 businesses, 5,700 jobs and contributing £170m to the turnover of the UK economy, primarily in the most disadvantaged areas of the country.

In addition, for each pound the sector lent, businesses have been able to leverage an additional £2 from mainstream banks.