We are a Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI), owned by our members – both borrowers and investors
We were established in 1997 to help ‘alleviate poverty through enterprise’ by lending to businesses unable to access any or all of the finance they needed from the banks and so enable them to create or preserve jobs.
Originally set up in Aston, ART (Aston Reinvestment Trust) was a pioneer CDFI in the UK. Our model – raising finance from member investors from the public and private sectors, as well as individuals, to lend to businesses in a specific area – has since been replicated around the UK.
ART Business Loans’ mission today is “to ensure that viable business in the West Midlands can access the finance they need.” We lend when the banks either haven’t lent at all, or have already lent all they can. In fact we often lend alongside the banks and other financiers as part of a package.
ART was set up as a one of the recommendations from the Aston Commission, led by Sir Adrian Cadbury, which was investigating issues around access to finance in the area. Sir Adrian became ART’s first Chair and remained its President until his death in September 2015.
Corporate and individual investments provide a base from which ART Business Loans is able to attract additional funds from a variety of public and private sector sources, including the banks.
Our investors are philanthropic companies and individuals interested primarily in a social rather than a financial. See Invest in ART for more information.
We currently have money from the Regional Growth Fund (RGF), which is provided through our trade association – Responsible Finance (formerly known as the Community Development Finance Association or CDFA) – matched by funding from the Unity Trust and Co-Operative banks.
In 2012, when the programme was announced, Dr Vince Cable, then Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills, addressed the CDFA Conference on the subject of funding CDFIs and their important role in the UK economy.