Image: British Business Bank

“Cash rules everything around me, C.R.E.A.M/ Get the money; dollar dollar bill, y’all.” – Wu-Tang Clan

As odd as it might appear to mention the Wu Tang Clan in the same sentence as the British Business Bank, there’s one thing that connects them:
You see, on January 31st, 1993, the East Coast hip hop group from New York City released a 1993 studio album called Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). On track number 8 of this album was what would be their highest charting single called C.R.E.AM, an acronym for “Cash Rules Everything Around Me”. And as the title suggests, the track is a lyrical exploration of the vitality of cash flow in modern society.

Almost 2 decades later, three and a half thousand miles away in London, England, a financial institution was created that embodied this core idea expressed by the American rappers. Headed by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills – Vince Cable – the institution was called the British Business Bank.

And its goal? To increase the supply of credit to small and medium enterprises

With a keen recognition of cash flow as the lifeblood of every business, the British Business Bank launched with £1 billion of government funding and also brought together a whole host of government financial schemes to create a ‘one stop shop for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to go to’. They also created a network of 80 finance market providers in areas such as:

• Start-up funding providers
• Business angels
• Debt funds
• Trade credit providers
• Asset finance providers
• Banks
• Supply-chain finance providers
• Peer-to-peer lenders
• Venture capital funds

But far from being just a government backed lender, the British Business Bank has loftier aims.

For starters, it targets its services at companies with turnovers of up to £25 million. Also, instead of lending directly to SMEs, the British Business Bank works with other financial institutions to increase access to funding e.g. providing part-guarantees for loans.

Why?

In their own words, they are trying to:

“change the structure of finance markets for smaller businesses, so these markets work more effectively and dynamically”

Or put another way, the British Business Bank wants to help businesses prosper and build economic activity in the UK. And so far their progress in achieving this has featured performance highlights such as:

• £782 million of new lending and investment generated by British Business Bank programmes in the financial year 2013/14
• £477 million of new lending and investment generated through new, emerging or smaller finance providers
• Over 30,000 businesses accessing finance through British Business Bank programmes
• £1.5 billion of total lending and investment in the market, supporting UK businesses

Navigating one’s business in today’s economic environment can be a highly nuanced, stressful and complex affair. But with the services provided by the British Business Bank, it’s a comfort to know there are resources available to help you – as the Wu-Tang Clan would say – “Get the money; dollar dollar bill, y’all.”