“The application process was quick and efficient. Any other funder would have been more long winded. ART is not the cheapest in terms of interest rate, because it reflects the risk involved, but what is important is that they are prepared to offer the loan. I think they are filling a unique gap in the market and I have recommended them to others.”
With an MBA in business and an interest in coaching and personal development, Martin Hogg set up Citizen Coaching in 2005. Based on the idea that ‘people are inherently good and if you treat them with respect and empathy you will always win in the long run’, Martin’s aim was to help adults and young people to live better lives by providing access to timely, affordable, jargon-free counselling, anger management, personal development coaching and employment skills training. The business has grown over the years and now employs eight full time staff and calls on around 30 trained practitioners who undertake counselling on a sub-contract basis as required.
As a social enterprise, Citizen Coaching does a lot of work with the public sector and that can cause cashflow problems due to delays in payments or extended payment terms that are a part of the contract. On this occasion Martin had two pieces of work, which required some cashflow support. “What I was looking for was access to a quick, short term loan, to tide us over until the payments we knew were coming in actually arrived,” says Martin. “It’s the sort of thing a commercial company might get an overdraft for, but the banks don’t really understand the third sector. They are especially averse to lending to a service business like ours, which doesn’t really have any assets – our main assets are our people.”
Martin had met Andy King from ART Business Loans at a number of sector networking events and got to understand ART’s ethos, as a social enterprise itself, and its criteria for lending. “It gave me the confidence to pick up the phone and ask Andy whether ART could offer what I was looking for,” says Martin. “I felt I could approach him as a trusted advisor, who would give me an honest answer. In fact he quickly identified a potential hurdle as a result of Citizen Coaching’s structure, but we were able to make a few phone calls and clarify that it would be OK to go ahead.”
The application process was completed quickly, efficiently and with a minimum of fuss. “Any other funder would have been more long winded,” says Martin. “ART is not the cheapest in terms of interest rate, because it reflects the risk involved, but what is important is that they are prepared to offer the loan. I think they are filling a unique gap in the market there and I have already recommended them to two other organisations. I would certainly go back to them myself in future as I now value that relationship and their personal approach to assessing applications.”
Thanks to ART Citizen Coaching continues to grow and thrive.