Esme business loans review

In this article, we assess whether Esme – a NatWest backed small business lender – could be the right source of funding for your business.

16 March 2020

Esme was founded in 2016 to help small business owners secure finance. Backed by NatWest, Esme is an entirely digital platform that provides business loans to meet the cash flow, working capital and other financial needs of SMEs. Applications for an Esme business loan can be made online on any device.

Esme business loans at a glance

Key features
Loan amount£10,000 - £250,000 for limited companies, £25,000 - £250,000 for sole traders
Duration1-5 years
Setup feeNo
Yearly interest rateFixed, 3.2% - 22.2%
Secured or unsecuredUnsecured
Trustpilot score4.5, 'excellent' based on 24 reviews

Every care has been taken to ensure this information is accurate. All information was correct as of 16th March 2020.

We've got business loan guides on Santander, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC and more.

Coronavirus information

If you’re looking to take advantage of the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), you should note that Esme are not an accredited lender. At iwoca we are CBILS accredited however.

Frequently asked questions

Am I eligible for an Esme business loan?

To take out an Esme business loan, you must satisfy the following lending criteria:

  • Over 18 years old and a UK resident
  • Sole trader or a director of a limited company
  • Actively trading for at least 18 months
  • Turnover of more than £15,000 per annum

How do I apply for an Esme business loan and what documents are needed?

You will need to submit:

  • Personal details
  • Information on your business (company bank statements, financial accounts, your last five quarterly VAT returns)

Will Esme perform a credit check?

Esme say on their website that they will not carry out a full credit check. It only performs a ‘soft credit’ search on you and any directors if applicable. Soft credit checks do not affect your credit score, and they cannot be viewed by other lenders.

How long does it take to be approved?

You can apply for an Esme business loan in less than 10 minutes, with receipt of funds in less than an hour. Esme states online that it aims to make all decisions within one working day.

Will I need to provide security?

Esme business loans are unsecured. Lending decisions are based on credit ratings, so security in the form of assets will not be required. With a secured loan, the business would need to provide property or other assets as collateral.

Can I pay off an Esme business loan early?

You can repay the loan at any time. There are no early repayment charges.

Can I make overpayments on an Esme business loan?

Yes, overpayments are allowed and there is no charge on full or partial repayments.

What are the advantages of an Esme business loan?

It's quick and simple to apply for an Esme business loan. You can apply on any device with an internet connection, and it takes less than 10 minutes.

Other advantages include:

  • Your credit score is not affected
  • You can receive funds within an hour
  • No early repayment charges
  • No collateral is required to secure a loan
  • Monthly repayments are fixed, making it easier to budget
  • No set-up fees
  • Preferential rates for existing customers, and the possibility of preferential rates if you bank with NatWest

What are the disadvantages of an Esme business loan?

  • An Esme business loan cannot be used to purchase equity in other businesses
  • An Esme business loan is only available to companies registered in the UK which have been trading for a minimum of 18 months

Further considerations

The marketplace for alternative finance is extremely varied and developing fast. There are many options today for small businesses in need of funding, so it pays to explore all the possibilities and find a provider that can match your precise requirements.

Could an iwoca CBILS loan be right for you?

The world of business loans has changed considerably since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with many businesses needing finance in order to stay afloat. The introduction of the Government's Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is an initiative that aims to help as many businesses survive the crisis as possible.

iwoca is an accredited CBILS lender, and are offering loans between £50,000 and £350,000. To see if you could apply, visit our CBILS homepage.

With an iwoca CBILS loan, you won't be asked to sign a personal guarantee, or make any repayments for the first 12 months.

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This article was created by the Insights team at iwoca.

Article updated on: 6 July 2020

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