Fintech lenders are best placed to deliver Government support to micro businesses

iwoca CEO and co-founder Christoph Rieche on why we welcome Government support for small and micro businesses at a time when they need us the most.

13 March 2020

We are pleased that some of our recommendations for the 2020 budget were taken into account when the Government announced the £1bn Business Interruption Loan Scheme in response to the Coronavirus outbreak, on Wednesday, 11 March [this was updated to £330bn on 17 March].

We have now been accredited by the British Business Bank (BBB) as a CBILS lender, meaning that we will now be able to offer Government-backed loans to businesses struggling as a result of coronavirus.

We remain focused on our mission to provide our customers with the finance they need to bridge cash flow gaps and make investments – within hours, and not weeks. Therefore, we want to ensure that the measures put in place by HM Treasury are implemented in a way that is genuinely going to help micro businesses and the wider economy.

The vast majority of businesses in this country (96%) are micro businesses (1-9 employees), and are particularly vulnerable to economic shocks. Our hope is that the new scheme, along with other measures announced, will help thousands of businesses who cannot wait months or weeks for the support they need. We must address this right now, because Britain’s small and micro businesses are a major contributor to the UK economy, employing around nine million people.

Since 2008, the UK’s small businesses have been held back, facing an estimated gap in finance of up to £22 billion. We launched, over eight years ago, to help plug this gap and give a boost to the economy by providing much needed liquidity - something the banks were not (and are still not) prepared to do.

We have a proven track record in funding small businesses fast – as quickly as three minutes – and at scale, having lent more than £1bn to small businesses in the past eight years. iwoca's staff can work 100% remotely without causing disruption to our operations. Thanks to the BCR grant, we have OpenLending – an open API to plug in our lending platform into any digital journey, already used by 14 partners.

So far, we have supported more than 50,000 small businesses, with the majority of our funding decisions made within 24 hours. We deliver access to capital at the speed required in these uncertain times. Having fought the corner of small businesses for nearly a decade now, I believe digital lenders like us are best placed to work with the Government to help small and micro businesses weather the challenges ahead.

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Christoph is CEO and co-founder of iwoca. He oversees day-to-day operations, finance and strategy, always with an eye on the long-term vision. Following a degree in Management from HEC Lausanne and the London School of Economics, Christoph went on to become a VP at Goldman Sachs where he advised corporate and institutional investors on risk management.

Article updated on: 20 May 2020

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