New loan opportunity : Streetskins Limited

We’re pleased to announce that two new loans are now live on the FundingKnight crowdlending auction site, offering the chance to lend to Streetskins Limited. You’ll find full details of the loans and all the usual financial information available on our website, but to wet your appetite, here’s a quick summary:

Loan opportunity:

Streetskins Limited is an outdoor media company that places advertising on the shutters of high street shops and premises. Due to a new contract win the business needs funding to assist in the implementation of new advertising sites.

We also have existing auctions running for Red Advertising Limited and Lextan Limited and other auctions will launch imminently.

You can find more details by logging on to www.fundingknight.com and choosing Find a Loan.

Add funds to your account:

You may only place a bid out of available funds in your FundingKnight account. If you need to transfer funds to your account, click here to do this now and go to Add Funds in your My Money account. Remember you can invest as little as £25.

Bid now:

Once funds are added please go to Find a Loan for further details on the business opportunity and to make a bid.

And now you can ask questions:

As part of our continued improvements to the FundingKnight website functionality and user experience we are launching Q&A facility to enable lenders to submit questions to borrowers.  Questions will be sent directly to the borrower.  This facility will help lenders gain the additional information required when making a decision on whether to bid on a loan.

FundingKnight Likes… The Financial Fairytales

front cover of 'The last gold coin' book

In our recent post, Could a child fund your next business loan? we were pleased to be able to include a comment from Daniel Britton of The Financial Fairytales, a company who hold financial responsibility for children very close to their hearts. We’ve invited Daniel to tell us more about his quest to raise the levels of financial literacy amongst children and hope to welcome him to the FundingKnight blog for a guest blog or two in the new year, but, in the meantime, we thought it was time for The Financial Fairytales to feature in our ongoing series of  ‘FundingKnight Likes’ blogs.

The Financial Fairytales are a company based in the United Kingdom founded by British author and entrepreneur, Daniel Britton. The company produce books for children and schools all around the world in order to educate, empower and inspire their young readers to become financially literate, learn about the key elements of the world of money; spending, saving, borrowing plus, not forgetting the basic principles of what money actually is and why we have it.

As we all know and experience the influence money has on every aspect of our daily lives, it makes complete sense to educate children from a young age and hopefully instilling a conscientious approach to spending. In fact there’s no doubt that there are many adults out there who would benefit similarly from simple educational techniques related to their finance and savings.

Founder Daniel Britton says:

“By teaching your children about money you take charge of their future financial and economic wellbeing.  Recent studies have shown that over 2/3rds of parents believe that children aged 7 or younger should be taught the financial and money principles contained in The Financial Fairy Tales.

Lessons in financial awareness or resources which support financial literacy for kids are sadly lacking from the curriculum in many schools.”

By providing a foundation education in economics for primary school aged children, The Financial Fairytales maintain that it will help prevent cycles of bad habits potentially instilled into children by their parents. Having come through the worst financial crisis of all time in very recent years surely that can only be a good thing?

Others argue that perhaps we should let children be children and leave their childhood to less adult endeavours, but you know when learning about something serious is as fun and easy to digest as Britton’s books, you are onto a good thing.

Find out more about The Financial Fairytales books and recommendations here.

FundingKnight Likes… Brixton Pound

Recently I wrote about the newly launched Bristol Pound and why we at FundingKnight were fans of this community orientated and hyperlocal currency.

The Bristol Pound is one of few other similar projects taking place around the UK so we thought we would write about one of the first and the original urban scheme, the Brixton Pound.

In the same way as other local currencies, the Brixton Pound was designed and implemented to keep investment and spending in the local area.

By exchanging your run of the mill ordinary sterling into Brixton Pounds you can spend your hard earned cash in a plethora of Brixton businesses helping them to increase their profits.

It’s simple, you invest in your community and as a result your local area improves. It not only allows you to help grow home-grown businesses but also, if you use your B£ electronically, you get an additional 10% spend on your British Pound, thus making your money go farther with an added value local bonus.

One recent additional string to the currency’s bow is that if you work for Lambeth Council (where Brixton is located) you can now request to have a percentage of your wages paid in Brixton Pounds. A fabulous idea that really shouts it support to the civic scheme. Plus staff opting for this will receive the additional 10% bonus on their pound, essentially giving staff a pay rise well above the average local government salary increments.

Lambeth Council workers will also have the option to donate their monies directly from their wages to local charities, community groups and social enterprises of their choice.

By starting schemes like the Brixton Pound and others it allows local neighborhoods to take control of their communities and maintain the fantastic vibrancy and creativity that is unique to their area. In turn positivity breeds positivity, improving lives and environments whilst generating a powerful multiplier effect that extends and creates opportunities for more and more people every time a B£ is spent. That alone is more than reason enough to like, if not love, the Brixton Pound. Get involved and find out more here.

FundingKnight Likes…Streetbank

Following on from recent post, Crowdlending: Just one part of a sharing economy, it seemed only right and natural to further explore some of the fantastic social enterprises mentioned in that article and the New Statesman piece about peer to peer activity and a sharing economy.

One such enterprise is Streetbank, a not-for-profit online organisation that invites users to lend and borrow items to and from their neighbours and local businesses but also in addition, to find and share skills in all manner of areas of expertise from languages through to cooking. In their own words:

Streetbank is a site that helps you share and borrow things from your neighbours. Streetbank is meant for everyone. It is not for private benefit – for individuals to make a profit or professionals to sell their services. It is for the common good.”

With the growth of more philanthropic lifestyles becoming more and more appealing to people in times of financial difficulty, sites like Streetbank reflect a growing trend of hyperlocal organisations striving to make everyone’s neighbourhoods better places to live and work. Co-Founder Sam Stephens explains further:

“People are happier when they are are connected to each other. As we’ve grown richer we’ve become more and more disconnected until now most of us don’t know our next door neighbours. Helping someone out is a great way to make friends and build community spirit.”

Joining Streetbank is free and the possibilities are endless. Garnering some serious press attention with its launch, it shows just how fantastic its promise is, echoing other similarly driven and hugely successful online communities from newbie airbnb or the long-established freecycle.

Of course the ethos behind Streetbank links rather wonderfully to the founding ideas and principles behind FundingKnight’s crowdlending aims and objectives. We believe that similar ventures with a strong, local and community focused outlook are great and the more we can all share in the common good, the better.

FundingKnight Likes…Bristol Pound

Bristol harbour at night

This week FundingKnight are shouting out about another fantastic local enterprise and one that has been attracting international attention, the Bristol Pound.

Recently launched on 19 September 2012, Bristol Pound is a new local currency, yep that’s right, you guessed it, just for the city of Bristol.  Bristol Pounds can be bought in the city and used at over 350 Bristol-based companies, which unbelievably, makes it the UK’s largest alternative to sterling.

The idea behind the currency is to get residents to invest their cash into local businesses rather than spending money with large multinational corporations, where money drifts all around the world, lining the pockets of businesses unbeknownst to you. By investing in and spending Bristol Pounds as you do your shopping, ordering things online or paying for meals out, you are keeping your cash in local pockets, boosting the neighbourhood economies and supporting those businesses who are part of the network.

Supporting the local marketplace means more independent traders are able to thrive as more money is spent locally. More independent business makes Bristol a better, more interesting and more creative place to live, which in turn improves the quality of life of the people that live there. What’s not to like?

Not only will residents be helping to grow their community but they can also invest sterling into Bristol Pounds and receive a 5% bonus (up to £100,000), not a bad deal when you think about the current offers available at your average high street bank.

The transactional process is easy. Members can spend Bristol Pounds in three ways: online, mobile and actual paper money. All methods are secure, easy to use and readily available to purchase at multiple locations in Bristol. Beautifully designed notes bearing local artists’ work feature a secure hologram, gold foil and laser-etched security numbers to prevent counterfeiting. The entire operation is backed and underwritten by Bristol Credit Union, a regulated financial institution and Bristol Pound is a not-for-profit organisation.

As a champion of all things local, community and sustainable, FundingKnight likes Bristol Pound a lot. It may be small change, but it can make a big difference.

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Lights! Carrots! Action!

Following on from our recent posts about the fabulous Muddy Carrot, an online farmers market based in Dorset and the future of marketing for independent businesses [Why content marketing rules the day, 7 September 2012]. It struck us that Muddy Carrot are ticking all the right boxes when it comes to getting closer to customers.

Customer engagement is all about helping people understand what you are about, what you personality is, so how better to get to know the people behind a company than through the use of video.

‘I’m local and I know it…’ ,a two and half minute film, is a great example of how to embrace all the different kinds of people that will visit at your website. A video can engage your audience with a bit of fun and sell your story in a way that your customers will love. Sure, you have to go that extra mile but we think it’s worth it. Check it out here and I defy you not to smile.

Being different. Why even crowdlenders need to stand out from the crowd.

I’ve written a couple of blogs that mention Youngme Moon’s book Different.  Escaping the Competitive Herd.   Her thoughts on how whole sectors can become tired, causing individual brands to merge into one – not very attractive – melting point, seems particularly relevant to the debate on the banking system change.

Then yesterday, some tweets about Finovate – a conference dedicated to showcasing the latest innovation in financial services – mentioned Youngme Moon again, getting me thinking about my favourite quotes from the book.

So, here they are, a collection of thought provoking (I hope!) quotes about why sometimes even crowdlending businesses like FundingKnight need to pay attention to being different, and standing out.  Check out the FundingKnight slideshare profile for more presentations.

We like…Muddy Carrot

What would the world be like if we invested 50% of our assets within 50 miles of where we live?

It’s an interesting thought brought to our attention by Slow Money, a US based movement acting on and exploring a vision that, to quote, is;

“bringing people together around a new conversation about money that is too fast, about finance that is disconnected from people and place, about how we can begin fixing our economy from the ground up… starting with food.”

The ideals, vision and ethics Slow Money are creating and living by can only bring positive and empowering results to the communities involved. It’s exciting stuff and has been inspiring us at Funding Knight to look for similar UK models and likeminded businesses as we continue our series of profiling ethical company models we admire.

Which brings us to Muddy Carrot, an online farmers market. It is a fabulous and relatively new enterprise. The company, based in Dorset, sells everything you might find at your local farmers market, but through a one-stop shop website where you can pick up your purchases from individual sellers or get them delivered directly to your door. Customers are able to buy countless different locally produced products varying from crafty kits to local preserves, meats, cheeses, toiletries and even, yep that’s right, livestock.

Muddy Carrot’s creators say;

“Having spent many years attending markets, both local and national, we were aware of the rich range of beautiful, carefully handmade things that were hidden away down country lanes only to appear at occasional events.

We realised there was a need to bring all these hidden gems together in one up-to-the-minute and convenient marketplace showcasing businesses that have a genuine ethical heart.   Everything beautifully produced, either from their local soil or upcycled.  A combination of a farmers’ market and village fair full of gorgeous things you couldn’t find anywhere else.”

It’s a fantastic concept echoing the Slow Money vision.  We at Funding Knight like their style for the following reasons: 1) They represent a whole community of local makers, growers and farmers in one central, globally accessible location 2) It aids the growth of local businesses 3) It provides customers with high quality, locally sourced products 4) And last but not least, its principles are ethically sound and sustainable.

Now just when you think it couldn’t get any better, this is where Muddy Carrot stands out from the crowd. The site not only provides a platform for products created by their local community, it wants to grow its local community, too by providing up to date listings and information on local events, groups and holiday opportunities.

A local map on the Muddy Carrot site allows purchasers to see exactly where their food and products have come from, helping customers to keep it local, make a positive change and, ideally, plough assets back into our local community.

So, why not check out their website.  You can support your town and best of all, shout about it to other likeminded people?

We like… West Country Radio

One of the reasons we set up our crowdlending business was to provide a way for people to invest in the things that are important to them. You see a business model you like, an ethical standpoint you admire or simply a gap in the market and then invest into a company that fits with your beliefs. You have the power to make good things happen.

As we build up our business we hope to make that dream a reality but in the meantime, we’re keen to help local causes in whatever way we can.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at business models we admire, want to be involved in or just think are worth sharing. We’ll also follow progress as these companies grow, taking our readers, lenders and investors on a virtual journey.

First out the bag is West Country Radio. Just launched on 13 August 2012, their business is a not-for-profit radio station aimed at promoting the south-west, increasing tourism and promoting businesses, resorts and events. It is a local business aimed at improving the lives of local people.

Its uniqueness comes in the form of how the radio station is broadcast. All presenters broadcast from home studios, transmitting their shows live and pre-recorded. This of course reduces costs enormously and allows money acquired by the station to be used on other things such as marketing and promotion.

What’s more, the station is completely run and produced by volunteers, minimising costs and providing fantastic volunteer opportunities, internships and training for people keen to get involved and learn about how a radio station works.

Opportunities like these are incredibly valuable for a local community and are applicable to all ages, from young people looking to gain experience for the future through to retired volunteers looking to give something back in their spare time.

Whilst relying on volunteers and therefore reducing overheads considerably, West Country Radio are also looking for funders, advertisers and sponsors to aid and increase capacity and grow the station’s listenership. The hyper-local nature of the station means that local businesses and events would benefit enormously from getting involved in the station whilst also helping out in the early stages of growth and helping to benefit the local area.

Local ventures such as West Country Radio are exactly what Funding Knight want to promote. Sometimes, we’ll help by providing business finance via our crowdlending model, and when that’s not viable we’ll help spread the word about local people committed to helping local people. We believe life is about more than just business, it’s about getting back to the roots of community and the warm fuzzy glow you can get as a result.