AskIf launches AskIf Funding, a lender accredited under the British Business Bank’s Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme

Press release 04 March 2020

  • AskIf Funding (Series 2019-1) Limited (“AskIf Funding”) has been accredited as a lender for the term loan variant of the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) Scheme.
  • Ask Inclusive Finance (“AskIf”) the inclusive small and microbusiness lending platform, announces the launch of AskIf Funding, a vehicle arranged and administered by AskIf that lends to small and micro businesses.
  • AskIf Funding will lend through and be administered by Ask Inclusive Finance’s (“AskIf”) new funding platform.
  • AskIf’s new platform aims to specifically target funding for small and microbusinesses – boosting job creation, earnings and helping left-behind communities across the UK.
  • AskIf’s platform knits together effective human support and risk assessment with state-of-the-art tools and infrastructure.
  • AskIf aims to boost the flow of capital to microbusinesses by making it easier for institutional lenders of all kinds to lend to this sector through a single aggregated platform.
  • The platform offers consolidated uniform procedures for risk assessment, client management and support, centralised monitoring and more.

Ask Inclusive Finance, the inclusive tech-enabled funding platform, today announces its plans to transform the finance ecosystem serving small and microbusinesses in the UK, to help kickstart economic growth needed up and down the country.

AskIf’s ambition is to ensure that every creditworthy small and micro business in the UK can get the funding and help it needs to achieve its full potential.

AskIf Funding, the first ‘AskIf-arranged’ lender on the platform, has gained formal accreditation from the British Business Bank to offer loans to small and microbusinesses under their Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) scheme.

Through the EFG scheme, AskIf Funding will be able to lend to viable smaller businesses with insufficient security under normal terms. EFG provides the lender with a government-backed 75% guarantee against the outstanding facility, potentially enabling a ‘no’ credit decision from a lender to become a ‘yes’.

The lending situation for many small business owners has been challenging. Smaller enterprises are the lifeblood of our economy, and creditworthy businesses need funding and support to grow. If this can be provided effectively and at scale, we will not only create jobs, but also improve social mobility and have a positive economic impact in left-behind communities up and down the UK. Our mission with AskIf is to transform the financial ecosystem that serves Britain’s smallest businesses, unleashing them to make the huge positive impact they could. To do this we have what we believe to be a ‘winning’ combination to enable scale; skilled people to support borrowers and make smart lending decisions, the latest tech to embed robustness, efficiency and thorough data analytics designed for this under-served segment of the market. Samantha Bamert founder and CEO of AskIf

This new platform and range of services are designed to empower small and microbusinesses keen to grow. They are often earlier in their lifespan and smaller than established SMEs that are served by banks and the P2P/crowdfunding sector.

AskIf’s strategy is to fill the funding gap that exists for these businesses, with the specific aim of helping them grow significantly. The new ecosystem will effectively incubate businesses over time, helping them to reach maturity where funding for further growth will be more readily available.

The average loan size offered by AskIf Funding will be £40,000 and financial assistance and advice will be available through the life of the loan.

We are excited to be supporting AskIf and its strategy for Britain’s microbusiness community. The Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme is an important route to finance for viable UK businesses that may not otherwise be able to obtain it due to insufficient security to meet the lender’s normal requirements. The accreditation of AskIf Funding under the EFG scheme shows the British Business Bank’s continued commitment to help UK smaller businesses access the finance they need to realise their potential. Patrick Magee Chief Commercial Officer at the British Business Bank

Further Information

Notes to editors

About AskIf

Despite small businesses having such a major impact upon local economies, job creation and social mobility across the UK, the sector faces an annual funding gap of between £2 billion1  and circa £9 billion2 . Having left Barclays after a successful 19 year career, Samantha Bamert was asked to advise the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Task Group for Responsible Credit and Savings.  It was during this work that Sam found she could no longer ignore the socially damaging market failure resulting from the lack of funding for small businesses. Having looked for solutions across the Fintech space, it became clear there remained a huge market gap, so she set about creating Ask Inclusive Finance to tackle the problem head on.

AskIf’s approach is ambitious and holistic. Its aim is to transform the finance ecosystem serving small and micro businesses, thereby removing the funding gap and unleashing the potential these enterprises have to boost economic growth and trigger social improvement.

AskIf’s inclusive, tech-enabled platform is unique in combining the three crucial elements required to bring about the change and scalability needed to achieve its objectives – skilled people to support borrowers and make smart lending decisions, the latest tech to embed robustness, efficiency and thorough data analytics designed for this under-served segment of the market. The changes AskIf will deliver will open the sector to commercial funding sources, enabling capital to be deployed at scale and the funding gap removed.

AskIf accepts loan applications either through its website or via its network of partners (referral partners, brokers and full-service delivery partners).  Each borrower is also assigned a lending manager.

AskIf’s cloud-based platform puts each application through its matching algorithms to connect the borrower with the right partner and lending manager to support their application. AskIf’s workflow engine then controls the process and flow of information, ensuring continuity and transparency for the borrower.

Complementing human touch engagement with the borrower, the platform then embeds efficiency through the provision of automated tools that include; automated bank statements, a credit assessment engine, integrated credit bureau data; automated loan and collateral documentation, loan management functionality; reporting and analytics.  This enables AskIf to assess all loan applications for their creditworthiness and affordability for the borrower.

The gathering of users across a common platform that is underpinned by data consistency and a common risk framework allows for aggregation, enabling scaled capital deployment by institutional funders.

About the British Business Bank

The British Business Bank is the UK government’s economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity. Its remit is to design, deliver and efficiently manage UK-wide smaller business access to finance programmes for the UK government.

The British Business Bank programmes are supporting more than £7.2bn of finance to over 93,000 smaller businesses (as at end of September 2019).

As well as increasing both supply and diversity of finance for UK smaller businesses through its programmes, the Bank works to raise awareness of the finance options available to smaller businesses:

  • The new British Business Bank Finance Hub provides independent and impartial information to high-growth businesses about their finance options, featuring short films, expert guides, checklists and articles from finance providers to help make their application a success. The new site also features case studies and learnings from real businesses to guide businesses through the process of applying for growth finance.

As the holding company of the group operating under the trading name of British Business Bank, 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). The British Business Bank operates under its own brand name through a number of subsidiaries, none of which are authorised and regulated by the FCA.

British Business Bank plc and its principal operating subsidiaries are not banking institutions and do not operate as such. A complete legal structure chart for British Business Bank plc and its subsidiaries can be found on the British Business Bank plc website.

The accreditation from British Business Bank of Ak Intelligent Finance does not amount to any endorsement or warranty from the British Business Bank, the British Business Bank plc, or the government of the UK.

  • 1

    The SME Finance update from UK Finance reports total loan stock for SME loans of £82.644bn EOY 2017 and total new loans written in 2017 of £22.867bn; new loans 28% of the relatively static loan book. Assuming the same average duration for loans filling the funding gap as estimated by the Independent Lending Review, the annual unmet demand is as much as £9.7bn

  • 2

    The British Business Bank Small Business Finance Markets Report 2015-16 report (pg. 20) refers to the 2013 Independent Lending Review, which estimated the funding gap by assessing UK SME debt capacity compared with bank lending to UK SMEs. They noted: “This methodology estimated that the funding gap…was c£30bn – £35bn.” This is a total market size figure - https://www.british-business-bank/about/research-and-publications/small-business-finance-markets-report-2015-16