Award for LWM co-founder of the Aston Reinvestment Trust

pat conaty community finance award

The Citi Foundation and Community Development Finance Association awards recently recognised several organisations finding innovative ways to finance the communities that need it most.

Pat Conaty received an individual award for working to improve access to finance and support the community development finance sector. On the right is Shamima Begum, the other individual award winner.

Pat first brought the CDFI concept to the UK from his native United States. He set up several CDFIs, such as the Aston Reinvestment Trust in Birmingham, and innovated the products, forms and funding that CDFIs use. ART’s loan support  has now created or safeguarded 5000 jobs and over 650 loans have been delivered since 1997.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been enabled to access fair and affordable finance in the UK through CDFIs, which also helped to create over 8,000 businesses in 2013 and almost 12,000 new jobs, delivering Start Up Loans, New Enterprise Allowance and Regional Growth Fund programmes.

To read more about the work of CDFA and the awards go to






More localised banking: ‘citizens can clean up our banking system’

One such initiative is described on a sister site:

As public trust in the banking sector has been destroyed news of alternatives is welcomed. One economist, Professor Scott Cato, who has launched a campaign and petition to strip Barclays of its licence, reminded us in her Sky News interview: ”There are places where people could save and borrow money, such as the Credit Union and banks which have strong ethical investment credentials like the Co-operative and Triodos”

Her warning: “Let this be very clear: if the coalition government will not reform, restructure and clean up our banking system then we, the citizens, can.”

Discontent with the banks is rife everywhere, and in Burnley, a former cotton town, among the country’s most deprived, the Financial Times and other sources report a citizen’s innovation:

Colne businessman David Fishwick started his own lending institution to support a television show after becoming infuriated with the banking industry. In 2008 he started providing finance to help cash-strapped customers to buy his minibuses.

He set up a savings and loans institution which offers 5% annual interest, and lends it to local businesses at 8.9%, offering a personal guarantee to make good any losses. Profit left after paying the three staff of Burnley Savings and Loans is given to charity.

The prime importance of mentoring is emphasised by Mr Fishwick – as it is by Birmingham’s Aston Reinvestment Trust. This is compared by Keith Turner with the role of the traditional bank manager who regularly used to talk with his local business clients.

“We may not have much money but we have common sense”

His “bank” will not lend more than £25,000 a week and has a two-year waiting list.

Keith and Christine Turner, creators of the famous Malkin Pie, who own San-Witches in the heart of Pendle, in the lovely village of Sabden, could have lost all if Mr Fishwick had not stepped in with £8,500 loan over four years.

David Fishwick hopes to meet David Cameron and advocate the setting up of other community-based institutions set up, recycling money locally. He has upgraded his software and is working towards the coveted banking licence:

“We’ll keep going. We’re offering a ray of hope.”