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Helping SME’s create energy efficient businesses

  • Source: AskIf
  • Date: July 31, 2020

“Our role in the Q-Energy Project will ensure energy efficiency is not only financially viable, but the most cost-effective part of any business plan.”

Ask Inclusive Finance (AskIf) will be partnering with Qbots energy on the Q-Energy project, a landmark programme with an aim to develop a platform which will improve energy efficiency across the UK’s 5.9m SMEs. With research showing SMEs are currently responsible for over 50% of business energy use, it is hoped the project will kickstart the decarbonisation of the sector and bring the UK’s zero carbon goals closer.

AskIf joins a consortium of partners on the project, including Energy Systems Catapult, Bryt Energy and Pure Leapfrog who will each have a part to play in the work. 

The Q-Energy tool and business model will accelerate the uptake of energy efficiency investment measures into SMEs – helping to address some of the key market failures and barriers faced by SMEs surrounding energy and decarbonisation. Often these are a lack of understanding about the offering, lack of time, lack of trust in suppliers, lack of economies of scale, high upfront capital costs and difficulty accessing finance. 

AskIf will use this project to further our ambition to ensure that every creditworthy start-up and SME in the UK are able to access the funding and help they need to achieve their full potential, supporting sustainability in the process. 

We will adapt our lending platform to incentivise new and existing customers to extend investment in order to undertake energy efficiency investment, and to fund referrals from Qbots Energy.

Talking on the project, AskIf Founder and CEO, Sam Bamert commented: “This is such a fantastic initiative addressing a problem all SMEs struggle with. The financial implications of creating an energy efficient business are often too much for start-ups who have a lot of other factors to consider. The Q-Energy project will help future-proof businesses, providing a range of support that will ensure energy efficiency is not only financially viable, but the most cost-effective part of any business plan.”

The Q-Energy project has been made possible following a second round of funding awarded to the Q-Energy Project by the Government-run Boosting Access to SMEs Energy Efficiency competition (BASEE). 

What is BASEE?

The BASEE competition is part of the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, which aims to increase business productivity by enabling businesses to improve their energy efficiency by at least 20 percent by 2030. According to statistics, this will deliver up to £6bn in cost savings for businesses, and carbon savings of up to 22 MtCO2e.

For further information on the project or how you can get involved, please contact Louis Heywood, Qbots Energy, Project Manager for the Q-Energy Project at [email protected], 07713 242 625. 

AskIf CEO’s Open Letter to Chancellor

  • Source: AskIf
  • Date: April 20, 2020

AskIf urges Government to resist calls for 100% guarantee on CBILS

With pressure on the government to increase the CBILS guarantee to 100%, AskIf believes this is NOT the solution and there are much better ways to reduce complexity, improve access and increase the speed with which businesses can access the funding they so desperately need. AskIf CEO, Sam Bamert sets out why she believes a 100% guarantee would be damaging to UK SMEs, damaging to the taxpayer, and damaging to our left-behind communities across the UK over the long term.

Sam’s letter suggests a 100% government-guaranteed loan wouldn’t fix the issues of complexity or speed of availability.  With a finance sector not yet delivering CBILS loans at scale, changing the guarantee is not the solution.  If anything, she claims a 100% guarantee would make things worse. Whilst acknowledging the fact that Banks play a critical part in the solution, Sam believes we need a better tool than the ‘banks need to fund all SMEs’ solution, because banks are ill-equipped to deliver loans to the smaller businesses that need it.  

Their problem isn’t cost of capital (which a 100% guarantee does bring down), it’s the sheer administration that they can’t cope with. Sam states “since the financial crisis, mainstream banks have been woefully poor at serving many smaller and more idiosyncratic SMEs.  Anything that doesn’t ‘tick all the boxes’ is routinely declined”. Since the CBIL Scheme launched, non-bank lenders have seen unprecedented levels of demand.  

In an open letter to the Chancellor, Sam suggests that we must ensure that the solution for SMEs involves bank AND non-bank lenders delivering CBILS to ensure comprehensive coverage for SMEs. She recognises it is crucial that we get funding to small businesses across the UK, to enable them to emerge from the crisis strong enough to underpin the health of our communities and the recovery of our local economies.

She urges the government to “use this crisis to deliver a silver lining: a finance sector that is more inclusive now than it was before.  That delivers support and funding where it’s needed.  That empowers left behind communities as well as affluent ones”. Community Lenders (including CDFIs) and other inclusive fintech and alternative lenders need to be part of the solution and stand ready to disburse funds to the businesses most in need of financial support.

AskIf, appoint two new team members to aid delivery of CV-19 loans

  • Source: AskIf
  • Date: April 6, 2020
  • AskIf appoints former CEO of Start Up Loans to their senior management team.
  • Also recruiting former Director of Corporate Portfolio Management at Santander as new Head of Credit Risk.
  • Both will play a critical role as the firm delivers the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

Joanna Hill, former CEO of Start Up Loans, has been appointed as Commercial Director at AskIf – one of the 40 CBILS Accredited Lenders. Joanna was instrumental in building the Start Up Loans Company, which supported 50,000 Startups during her time there.

She will bring her wealth of experience in enabling funding for developing businesses, ensuring UK SMEs can access funding made available through the scheme.

AskIf has also appointed a new Head of Credit Risk, Arnon Aviram, from Santander. Arnon is an experienced financial services and banking professional, specialising in SME lending and Corporate and Commercial Banking.

The CBIL scheme, which is providing financial support to smaller businesses (SMEs) across the UK that are losing revenue as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, is being distributed by banks and lenders like AskIf.As a lender that exists to address the gap in funding to small businesses, AskIf are leading the charge in inclusive lending through the scheme – drawing upon both Joanna and Arnon’s experience, and assisting businesses who may struggle to obtain loans from larger banks. Their aim is to make the path to the CBILS loan as accessible as possible.The scheme is a part of a wider package of government support for UK businesses and employees.

CBILS gives the lender a government-backed guarantee for the loan repayments to encourage more lending.

Joanna said: “’I’m delighted to be working with the team at this crucial time. The company has already achieved so much, but I know we can do more, and help more people and businesses in the future. The opportunity to be involved in supporting UK SMEs facing difficulties as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic really appealed to me and the AskIf approach and values made this opportunity irresistible. AskIf seeks to really understand the story and the people behind each business and the whole team is motivated to make a difference”.

Sam Bamert, Founder and CEO of AskIf, commented: “I’m delighted to welcome Joanna and Arnon to the AskIf team. At this difficult time I felt it was important to build a strong team who understood the challenges UK SMEs are facing. Arnon’s credit risk expertise, coupled with Joanna’s huge experience and ability to get things done, perfectly complements the rest of the AskIf team, and means we are ready, willing and able to disburse funds under CBILS. We hope the support we provide will improve the sustainability of all the businesses we fund during and post the period of Coronavirus disruption.”

AskIf Funding Limited accredited as a lender for the term loan variant of the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) Scheme.

  • Source: Business Money
  • Date: March 4, 2020

Through the EFG scheme, AskIf Funding will be able to lend to viable smaller businesses with insufficient security under normal terms. EFG provides the lender with a government-backed 75% guarantee against the outstanding facility, potentially enabling a ‘no’ credit decision from a lender to become a ‘yes’.

AskIf launches AskIf funding, a lender accredited under the British Business Bank’s Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme

  • Source: British Business Bank
  • Date: March 4, 2020

Ask Inclusive Finance, the inclusive tech-enabled funding platform, today announces its plans to transform the finance ecosystem serving small and microbusinesses in the UK, to help kickstart economic growth needed up and down the country.

AskIf’s ambition is to ensure that every creditworthy small and micro business in the UK can get the funding and help it needs to achieve its full potential.

AskIf Funding, the first ‘AskIf-arranged’ lender on the platform, has gained formal accreditation from the British Business Bank to offer loans to small and microbusinesses under their Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) scheme.

Through the EFG scheme, AskIf Funding will be able to lend to viable smaller businesses with insufficient security under normal terms. EFG provides the lender with a government-backed 75% guarantee against the outstanding facility, potentially enabling a ‘no’ credit decision from a lender to become a ‘yes’.

Read the full article on the British Business Bank Website

AskIf shortlisted as a finalist for two Growth Finance Awards

  • Source: Growth Finance Awards
  • Date: June 27, 2019

The Growth Finance Awards launched this year in order to celebrate the companies providing “more than finance” to the UK’s growing businesses. It’s the first event of its kind, celebrating the innovative organisations breathing optimism into all regions of the UK by helping ambitious SMEs to scale new heights. These growth champions provide the vital capital inflows – around £79.7 billion last year – that help thousands of businesses to scale- up, boost productivity and create new jobs up and down the country.

AskIf is delighted to have been shortlisted as a finalist in two categories Business Growth Enabler and Specialist lender.

See the full list of finalists here

Our CEO, Samantha Bamert makes the Natwest Wise100 List

  • Source: Pioneers Post ‍
  • Date: October 30, 2018

The annual NatWest WISE100 recognises the most inspiring and influential women in social enterprise, impact investment and mission-driven business.

The NatWest WISE100 (Women in Social Enterprise 100), produced annually by Pioneers Post in partnership with NatWest bank, were revealed last night, as attendees celebrated female leadership and explored the theme of ‘sharing the stage’ to involve more women in the impact economy.

Five questions for: Samantha Bamert, CEO of AskIf

  • Source: MoneyWeek
  • Date: April 6, 2018

“Since launching the platform last year, we have already processed over £4m of applications and financed over £1.3m of loans, creating 48 new jobs, and safeguarding a further 20 within 28 small businesses.”

Read full article on MoneyWeek website

James Hurley at The Times on a ‘more responsible form of small company finance’

  • Source: The Times
  • Date: April 9, 2018

“The AskIf platform aims to help expand and professionalise the responsible finance industry, allowing many more small companies to benefit from the credit it provides.”

James Hurley

Read full article on T‍‍he Times website

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