A £10m grant from Banking Competition Remedies (BCR) was awarded to iwoca, one of Europe’s largest business lenders, as announced by iwoca in a press release last week.
The funding is one of four £10m Pool C grants from the Capability and Innovation Fund (CIF), which is awarded by BCR to help businesses improve lending or payment services to SMEs across the U.K.
The lender said it is also adding £13 million on top of the grant, creating a total investment of £23 million. The grant will enable iwoca to open a regional office with at least 50 staff members outside of London.
The grant will also enable iwoca to grow its customer base to 150,000 and earmark £5 billion for Britain’s SMBs. Since its 2012 start, iwoca has loaned money to 35,000 U.K. firms and raised £350 million in equity and debt finance, London Loves Business reported on Wednesday (Aug. 21).
“Winning this grant is a huge milestone for us,” said Christoph Rieche, iwoca’s CEO and co-founder. “We’re confident that we’ll be delivering on our commitment to make £5bn available to 150,000 SMEs by 2023.”
The finance firm recently launched a lending API, an industry first, and reached profitability at £48 million, double that of 2018.
iwoca is also hoping to address the £10 billion small business funding gap by making financing more accessible through new products such as its self-serve “plug and play” OpenLending platform.
“iwoca is the only SME lender in the U.K. with the scale, level of experience and technology to dramatically expand and transform access to finance for small businesses,” Rieche said. “Our proven track record of industry firsts includes integrating with eBay and Amazon, being the first business to offer a lending API and [being] the first SME lender to integrate with open banking. Winning the grant enables us to accelerate our mission to make finance available to one million SMEs.”
The alternative small business lender raised $194 million in a February Series D funding round led by Augmentum Fintech.