Banks can help specialist lenders fill the SME finance gap
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Banks can help specialist lenders fill the SME finance gap

Banks may be retreating from lending directly to small and medium-sized enterprises, but by lending to credit specialists with good technology they can still be a source of funding for the sector.

Illustration: iStock

Iwoca, one of Europe’s largest specialist SME lenders, on Tuesday announced a new funding line with initial commitments of £200 million from Barclays and Värde Partners, an alternatives investment manager specializing in credit.

According to iwoca’s own most recent SME Expert Index, more than four in five brokers (84%) say high-street banks are reducing their appetite for funding SMEs.

That is up by seven percentage points from the first quarter of 2023.

We are very much at the data-science heavy end of lending. Time is always of the essence for working capital
Christoph Rieche, iwoca

Back then, iwoca secured an increase from £125 million to £170 million on its existing funding line with long-standing partner Pollen Street Capital as demand for SME finance soared.

This new £200 million funding line now takes the company’s total debt commitments to more than £850 million and equips iwoca to fill at least part of the alarmingly widening funding gap for SMEs.

Across the UK and Germany, iwoca has lent more than £2.5 billion since its launch in 2012 across more than 120,000 business loans.

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