November 2010 - Foundation East, a leading community finance company, reports that even small businesses with excellent prospects have struggled to access bank lending this year and as a result is launching a ‘safety net’ loan to provide fast access to essential funds.

Hertfordshire business Play and Learn is one of the businesses to benefit from a Foundation East loan. The company is based in Watford.

Despite strong customer interest in its colourful playmats and pre-orders from nursery schools, Play and Learn was unable to access bank finance it needed in order to fulfil the orders. The company turned to Foundation East and the strength of its business plan and quality of its management secured the much-needed loan.

Foundation East is a ‘lender of the last resort’ providing loans for businesses that have been refused bank finance despite having a viable business plan and cash-flow analysis. The membership society is using the launch of its Annual Review to highlight that help is available.

Foundation East Chief Executive Katy Ford says,

“Over the last year Foundation East has noticed an increase in demand from businesses that would previously have received bank finance.  We have been concerned that the problem has been cash-flow and some timely support is all that is needed to keep these businesses afloat.” 

As a result Foundation East has created a new type of lending to support established companies stay in business.  

“In addition to the start-up and longer-term loans, we are also talking to businesses about a bridging-loan facility that they can access at short notice. This will help, for example, to pay suppliers in order to meet orders.

“We are actively lending to small businesses and keen to receive applications.  Now is a good time to build a business, some of the strongest businesses are those that have survived harsh economic climates.”

Applicants need to have a basic business plan and cash-flow analysis which is discussed in detail by one of Foundation East’s Business Loans Managers. The Manager will come out to meet the people involved and see what they want to achieve.  The final decision to lend is made by a panel of members – business people and other professionals who understand what it takes to make a success of a business.

Foundation East is acutely aware that early-stage businesses need more than finance to thrive. This year it introduced a coaching scheme for people setting up new businesses and this is proving very successful.

More information on loans or becoming a member  is available on the website www.foundationeast.org or by calling 0845 293 7751.