Welsh ethical lender Robert Owen Community Banking (ROCB) is to embark on a programme of development and growth.
ROCB’s newly appointed Chief Executive, Mark White, is planning to launch a range of new business and personal loans tailored to the needs of Wales.
The experienced banker and finance expert has taken over at Powys-based ROCB, which promotes fairer lending and finance for businesses, individuals and communities, throughout Wales.
Mr White, who has worked with Barclays, Bank of Wales and Wales Council for Voluntary Action, has been with ROCB for two years as Business Loans Manager.
The plan is now to launch a suite of new products aimed at SME and micro businesses in Wales, as well as refreshing ROCB’s range of home improvement and personal loans to local communities and individuals.
“We will be adding to our offer of loans and financial products, and investing in the business and its systems, and promoting our fair-lending message,” he said.“Essentially we want to simplify and streamline the lending process where we can, to help our clients.”
Many small businesses and individuals across Wales, said Mr White, struggle to access affordable bank credit.
“The old order of the High Street Bank and other traditional lenders is giving way to a more flexible world of finance, more focused on the needs of customers. We fully embrace this change and are delighted to be playing a part in it,” he said.
ROCB, launched 12 years ago and based in Newtown, is a member of Responsible Finance (RF), the umbrella group for ethical lenders in the UK. Earlier this year, ROCB won the prestigious Impact Award in the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards 2018, presented at the RF annual conference.
ROCB offers start up and development loans to support enterprises in Wales from £500 to £50,000.
It also offers a range of financial initiatives to support communities and individuals. The Community Energy Fund was developed in conjunction with Big Lottery and Community Energy Wales to provide financial support for community energy projects, from feasibility through to installation. In the last three years, ROCB has lent £1 million to energy schemes, leveraging £17 million of construction spending.
Home improvement loans are available to residents of Powys, and ROCB is aiming to collaborate with other local authorities in Wales to spread this successful scheme.
Another recent initiative in support of Welsh enterprise has been the launch of ROCB’s Enterprise Hub at their Newtown headquarters. The hub provides a modern business environment available on a flexible basis, where enterprises can mix and collaborate.
“This is a very exciting time for Robert Owen Community Banking,” said Mr White. “We have a lot of plans to develop our services and offer to Welsh business, individuals and communities and are aiming to expand our network of like-minded organisations throughout the country.
“Our message of fair-lending, and putting the customer first, is ever-more popular and chimes with the latest trends in finance.”