For the full story, please read our press release
Big news: we've been awarded £10 million! We're one of just four companies to win this grant from the Capability and Innovation Fund (CIF). Small businesses across the UK deserve hassle-free finance, so we're using our prize to build them new lending and payment solutions.
It goes without saying that this is a big opportunity for us to help fund more businesses than ever before, at least 150,000, while making £5 billion in finance available by 2023.
“Winning this grant is a huge milestone for us,” says Christoph Rieche, our CEO and co-founder, reflecting the buzz we’re all feeling in the office today.
“iwoca is the only SME lender in the UK with the scale, level of experience and technology to dramatically expand and transform access to finance for small businesses. Our proven track record of industry firsts includes integrating with eBay and Amazon, being the first business to offer a Lending API, and the first SME lender to integrate with OpenBanking. Winning the grant enables us to accelerate our mission to make finance available to one million SMEs.”
Since 2012, we've offered funding to 35,000 businesses in the UK. But there's still a £10 billion gap in business finance because small business owners can't find the right options or struggle to access funds. The award, issued by The Banking Competition Remedies Ltd (BCR), is our chance to close the gap with new finance products, created just for small business owners.
Our first project will be OpenLending – a customisable self-serve or “plug & play” platform we'll roll out to lending partners.
A big part of our OpenLending commitment is a new partnership with our friends at Xero, the UK’s leading online accounting platform. The BCR grant will help us work with them to find creative solutions to small business finance problems. The aim is to make our funding options more accessible to Xero’s UK subscriber base of more than 450,000.
“The UK is one of the easiest places in the world to start a business, but not enough is done to help them grow,” says Edward Berks, Business Platform Director at Xero. “Boosting the UK's productivity means helping small businesses access finance to fund growth. It also means addressing the late payment epidemic which ties up working capital and stifles innovation. So I'm very excited that we'll be accelerating our partnership with iwoca to work together on new SME credit propositions. Small businesses deserve better access to funds.”
Thanks to the funding from BCR we can also confidently commit to creating new and innovative financial products, custom-built for small businesses. A key focus for us will be providing a flexible lending structure by introducing a ‘no PG loan’ – a business loan that won't require a personal guarantee.
We also pledge to bring finance to where business owners need it most – at the point of invoice – by launching iwocaPay. Designed to help solve the problem of late payments forever, iwocaPay will fund both sides of the invoice (buyer and seller), allowing the option to extend flexible payment terms to buyers, while also ensuring prompt payments.
Last but not least, we'll also add an extra £13 million to the £10 million CIF grant, creating a total pot of £23 million to fuel these projects. This investment will let us open a regional office with at least 50 staff outside of London. But we won't stop there: our six public commitments can be found on the CIF public commitments page.
As you can no doubt tell, we're excited to have won this award. Now, we're looking to the future – committed and ready to begin building what we've promised – to hopefully expand what’s possible for small businesses across the country.