The core of our business model is what we call ‘social finance’ say the founders of Bricks Finance, Jerry Rihll, Clive Banks and Will Michelmore.
“We like to be engaged wholeheartedly with the local community, both as investors and borrowers,” says Jerry. “We call it social finance. It’s a simple concept.”
Social finance is local finance, provided by investors who all rank equally as friends of the founders. Jerry adds: “The key to our business is trust. It is no coincidence that our early investors were family and friends. Today we have a community of over 50 investors and by communicating regularly we get to know each one personally.”
It is especially difficult for South West entrepreneurs to raise finance now. Changing this position is recognised widely as a critical element in the recovery of the local economy. As co-founder Clive Banks explains: “We believe entrepreneurs not only provide financial stability for their families but also create new jobs, new homes and expand their businesses into their communities, influencing others and resulting in economic growth across the South West.”
Clive says: “High street lenders are dealing with thousands and thousands of loan applications and have to have fixed criteria to allow them to process them efficiently. Luckily for us, this leaves plenty of sensible borrowing requests that fall outside their scope but suit our bespoke and flexible approach. Bank processes can be time consuming and sometimes borrowing needs arise quickly as finance falls through or opportunities need to be taken quickly. In such cases, Bricks can turn around finance requests in a matter of days and when we commit to a project we truly ‘own’ it and take a real interest in its progress and successful conclusion.
Bricks celebrated the fifth anniversary of its foundation with another year of record performance. Both the numbers of borrowers and investors increased along with record loan commitments of £18m and over £1m in interest paid to investors.
Despite market-impacting forces such as Covid-19 and Brexit, it is a testament to the Bricks social finance model that the business has continued to grow and prosper.
Co-founder Will Michelmore concludes: “Social finance through Bricks improves the economic situation for our borrowers and lenders. We have boosted savings income and helped to create and preserve hundreds of jobs across the West Country and we will continue to play our part in the successful development of the regional economy.”