A reflection of the past sixteen years from Chief Executive, Grahame Latus
“You guys won’t last twelve months doing what you’re doing”, a statement I keep reminding myself of as each anniversary passes from when we opened our doors to business on 1st March 2005, some sixteen years ago.
Taking the telephone call less than a week after we opened, from a known Business Adviser who made the above remark was somewhat disappointing. Clearly the individual had no understanding of our remit and lacked the vision to appreciate, that what we were setting out to achieve would actually benefit the clients he was tasked to work with.
If he had asked, I probably would have shared with him the two years research previously undertaken which evidenced the need for an alternative source of business finance for business in Cumbria. Evidence which clearly highlighted, that no matter how well served the county was by mainstream banking services, there were still business’s in the county which were falling through the eligibility cracks of the big banks and meant many were being deprived of access to capital for growth, expansion, equipment, etc and with that, the opportunity to create and/or safeguard jobs which fuel the local economy.
Our remit has never been to compete with the banks, but rather to focus on those marginal, yet viable, lending propositions which the banks have a limited appetite for, whatever their reason and to provide businesses with the finance required to achieve their aspirations to start, grow and develop into long term enterprises, creating a positive economic impact in the regions they operate.
But how do we differ from the mainstream? Simply by applying the good old-fashioned principles of judgmental lending, remembering the days when you could talk to your bank manager and he or she, through their knowledge of you and appreciation of your business (or the business idea if you were starting out) would then make their decision to lend, or not. At Enterprise Answers, our values are based upon similar principles, we make the lending decisions at our Penrith office and we make them locally, without resorting to credit scoring and we treat each lending application on its own merits as we really do appreciate, no two businesses are the same. For us, it’s about the people behind the business, as they at the end of the day are the decision makers and this is a key area of focus for us.
Since March 2005 we have lent millions of pounds to hundreds of businesses across Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire but for us, its not about these volumes, but rather the impact those businesses which we have invested in make, enabling them to prosper, grow and add value to everyday lives, communities and the economy. Some of those businesses were known brands locally and have since our investment, grown to be national if not, international brands.
We have weathered the storm of the financial crisis in 2007/8 when the economic crash occurred, forcing many banks to retreat into a risk averse shell bringing the lending shutters down, yet we soldiered on to assist those businesses in need. In 2020 we found ourselves in the midst of yet another economic crisis, brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and again we rose to the challenge to assist the Government and the economy, through being one of the first Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme (CBILS) accredited delivery partners, providing the valued financial support businesses sought to navigate the unprecedented crisis.
We are not a big team, but we do pack a mighty punch with a collective belief that we can provide viable businesses with the financial support they need when mainstream lenders are unable to oblige. Competing with mainstream lenders is not our aim but if we can say ‘yes’ to a proposition when other lenders cannot, then we will endeavor to assist, create opportunity, unleash potential and there is a lot of it about, as we have witnessed some amazing business innovation during the pandemic. We engage with a wide range of partners, both nationally and locally, enabling us to connect our clients to a diverse range of business support and add value to any financial package we may offer.
If you are a business based in Cumbria, Lancashire or the Yorkshire Dales in need of financial assistance to develop, expend, grow or even start your own business, you have an alternative lender on your doorstep who will take the time to listen, understand and deliver. Visit our website (www.enterpriseanswers.co.uk) and let us know if we can help.
Today, the Enterprise Answers team may currently be operating remotely due to the pandemic, but we will raise a glass to the past and future years, to acknowledge the team for their unwavering commitment, our Board of Directors for their unrelenting support and to toast our 16th anniversary, the one we were told we would not reach!