Alternative lender Linked Finance has doubled its annual lending to Irish firms to €200m in less than two years as it tries to “stay ahead of the banks”.
It has reported strong demand for retail, transport and construction loans this year, and is on track to lend €45m to small and medium-sized firms in 2022 – more than double 2020 levels.
The platform is forecasting up to €100m in annualised lending in 2024, as banks exit the country or tighten their lending conditions,” said chief executive Niall O’Grady.
“Hitting the €200m milestone in loans clearly demonstrates the success of a simple, fast SME lending model.
“This is particularly important when the banks are either too slow for SMEs or leaving the country completely.
"Our platform regularly connects Irish SMEs with retail lenders who recognise their enormous potential and want to invest in them.”
Linked Finance is a platform that connects investors – including individual retail investors and institutions – with firms that need cash.
There are more than 28,000 registered lenders on the platform, some investing as little as €50, and it has granted loans to more than 3,300 small and medium-sized enterprises since it launched in 2013.
Companies that have used the platform include the Rolling Donut, Kokoro Sushi Bento, Lolly & Cooks, Murphy’s Ice Cream, and the Irish Fairy Door Company.
Borrower Andy Byrne from website Schoolbooks.ie said the lender helped him scale up art and craft supplies and school-book stock to meet home-schooling demands during the lockdown.
This year, Linked Finance increased its maximum loan size to €500,000 and introduced a new cash advance feature, allowing merchants to use their daily cashflow from card payments as a source of financing.
Repeat customers make up 57pc of business loans.
Lenders on the platform have earned more than €19.4m in interest since its launch.