PwC and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) have joined forces to launch the Finpoint platform in the UK. Finpoint provides SMEs with a single point of access to apply for funding from a variety of 70 funding institutions - from banks to p2p alternative finance. Successful SMEs can then select from the best funding offer made available, thereby providing a variety of options for a range of different kinds SMEs. The ambition of the launch is to further stimulate the growth of SMEs in Leeds.
Small businesses often need access to credit to develop and expand. Gaining access to credit can be tricky however. Today a number of different avenues exist. Banks often provide credit to businesses whose risks are easy to profile. When banks do not stand up to the challenge, entrepreneurs typically seek specialised funding sources to fund their start-ups and SMEs. The upcoming and vibrant alternative finance market, estimated to be worth €2.3 billion in the UK, provides different forms of peer-to-business and business-to-business funding opportunities allowing for new funding avenues for divergent and different risk profiles.
However, with ever more funding providers coming into existence, and with funding channels proliferating, finding the right money at the right rates for SMEs can be daunting, with possibilities that exist but aren’t obvious, sometimes with-holding otherwise viable businesses.
Finpoint was launched in 2010 in Germany, to connect the financial needs of SMEs with small, and large investors. The platform allows SME users to create an – anonymous – application for funding that will be sent to a wide range of lenders – including specialist finance houses, banks and alternative finance providers. On successful applications, SMEs will be notified by funders interested in their project, and may then choose their most preferred option. The service is free of charge. Since its launch, Finpoint has provided its service to over 5,000 SMEs with over €200 million raised last year.
The partnership between Finpoint, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and PwC allows for the expansion of the service into the UK. The platform has already been supported by 70 lenders across the UK, including among others Loyds Bank, Metro Bank, Funding Circle, FundingKnight and BoostCapital. Finpoint will complement other SME services already provided by LEP and its partners to stimulate and support small business in the Leeds region.
Stuart Howie, director at PwC, remarks: “SMEs are a key part of the economy and we want to make it easier for them to grow and succeed. We know that access to finance can often hold back SME development and believe the platform can really help them by putting alternate financing routes alongside traditional lenders. We see our partnership with the LEP and Finpoint as a natural step to help local SMEs and one that builds on our own SME MyFinanceparter service launched last year.”
Rainer Plentl, Finpoint CEO, comments: “Finpoint is a proven platform which we have adapted to the specific needs of UK SMEs seeking funding. The platform allows SMEs to be in control of the process of finding finance and gives them access to alternative lenders, including crowdfunding platforms, and existing funders such as banks and challenger banks that operate in specific niches of the lending market.”
Rob Norreys, LEP Director, says “Leeds City Region boasts over 100,000 SMEs who are vital to our economy, but we know from our recent business survey that access to finance can be a major barrier to growth for companies in the region. Our partnership with Finpoint and PwC, will help businesses reach over 70 lenders quickly and easily and identify those interested in lending to them.”