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ART Business Loans

Governance and people

ART is a Community Development Finance Institution, also known as a Responsible Finance Provider. It is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and owned by its members, who elect representatives to the Board of Directors at each Annual General Meeting.

Structure

Originally an Industrial and Provident Society, ART SHARE (Social Help Association for Reinvesting in Enterprise) Limited (ART) became a Community Benefit Society under the Cooperative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014. This means that it is required to act for the benefit of its community – businesses unable to access the finance they need from the banks.

Aston Reinvestment Guarantee Company Limited is a separate legal entity to ART. It is a Company Limited by Guarantee (number 2422872). It can provide guarantees in favour of ART for loans made to ART and holds certain funds in reserve as provision for bad debts incurred in ART’s lending book. It has predominantly been funded by way of donations and currently holds a reserve of around £220,000. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of ART.

Membership

Investors in ART automatically become members of ART. Investors can be individuals or corporates. ART currently has more than 300 investor members, who have invested a total of over £750,000 over the years.

All members, in line with the rules of the Society, are entitled to vote at the Annual General Meeting or, if called, at Special General Meetings. Each member has one vote, irrespective of the size of their investment.

Investors

The generosity and vision of social investors, looking to put their money to work for the benefit of society have always been important to ART. Early investors included some of the major banks, Wesleyan, IMI, Jaguar, Severn Trent and several housing associations. Individual share investors were led by Sir Adrian Cadbury and his family.

The introduction of Community Investment Tax Relief (CITR), for which ART became accredited, gave investors the opportunity to receive a financial return through this tax relief, in addition to a social Investors return. ART and the Responsible Finance sector have championed the opportunity to use the Government’s Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme (operated through the British Business Bank), together with CITR.

Staff

The experienced staff team has a thorough understanding of business and finance. The Loans Managers take a personal approach to lending, meeting with potential borrowers to get to know their businesses and understand their plans. The team is able to signpost to other financers and facilitate packages of finance where appropriate. They are well connected and attend a large number of relevant business and finance events.


Directors

Board

ART currently has a Board of ten prominent local individuals with relevant backgrounds in finance, business, corporate social responsibility and supporting diversity and inclusivity in the West Midlands. With the exception of the Chief Executive, the Board members provide their services on a voluntary basis. The Board meets quarterly to set strategy, review performance and ensure that ART is a robust and sustainable business, able to fulfil its objectives. The Board also overviews operational performance.

Directors' remuneration

With the exception of the Chief Executive, Board members receive no remuneration for their work.

Directors' holdings

Board members are members of the co-op so have investment holdings in ART on a one-member-one-vote basis.

Conflict of Interest

The Board maintains a register of directors’ interests, and declarations of interest is a standing item on Board agendas.

Diversity

One out of 10 directors is female and three are from ethnic minority groups.

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