SME growth gets a boost as Greater Manchester Combined Authority commits to B-North
B-North, the Manchester-based provider of SME lending for the North, has received funding from Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to help Manchester businesses access much needed debt capital quickly and effectively.
B-North, which is currently in the process of gaining a banking licence, announced the funding during an investor event at King Street Townhouse on the 25th July with guest speaker Andy Burnham, who confirmed the endorsement and its contribution to the northern SME ecosystem.
SMEs make up the vast bulk of the northern UK economy – according to an IPPR report in February 2019, 99.8% of North England businesses have fewer than 250 employees.
With the funding from the GMCA, B-North will invest further in its cloud-based banking infrastructure and deliver essential lending solutions for regional SMEs through the establishment of its Manchester ‘Lending Pod’.
B-North will operate ‘Lending Pods’ in major cities across the UK, the first of which is in Manchester. Each Pod will contain people experienced in the lending needs of SMEs, including underwriters with discretion to sanction facilities locally and an in-house valuer. All loan applications will be managed locally and customers will have access to the local teams and resource in the B-North head office.
This highly localised model will allow lending to be made available to SMEs within as little as 10 working days. Currently, with traditional banks, requests for loans are centralised to head office and can take 3-4 months to be delivered.
Jonathan Thompson, co-founder, B-North, said: “Together with the GMCA, B-North will provide access to essential lending to facilitate the growth of SMEs within the northern economy.
“There are 5.6 million small businesses operating in the UK, comprising 61% of the UK workforce: that’s an integral part of the UK economy, which we anticipate will only increase as the UK’s relationship with the EU evolves and we become more reliant on “home-grown” enterprise. The ‘Northern Powerhouse’ already contributes significantly and is an essential part of the UK’s identity.”
“At B-North, we will offer tailored cloud-based banking and flexible support through an unrivalled product set, which will allow SMEs to remain competitive in this new era of business.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Greater Manchester is a city-region whose time has come and which is showing great growth and optimism.
“If we’re to build the economy outside of London, we need to improve access to finance for our start-ups, our scale-ups and particularly our SMEs. It’s really encouraging that B-North will focus on these businesses, which often struggle to get bigger investment funding and the money needed to take them to the next level. We have to provide that level of finance as a city-region if we’re to fulfil our economic ambitions, and it’s why the GMCA is so pleased to be investing in B-North.”