By Claire West

Cash-strapped businesses, could soon be given a huge boost thanks to Peoplefund.it and a like-minded set of forward-thinking finance providers, who have joined forces to create the Next Generation Finance Consortium, in a bid to aid Britain’s recovery.

As banks fail to hit their lending targets, the group is seeking to change the financial landscape in the UK and respond to the growing demand for alternative sources of business finance. The group will provide entrepreneurs and small businesses with much needed advice and support about new finance options available to them. It will also liaise with Government bodies and other organisations, lobbying for support on key issues related to small business finance.

Access to finance continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing British start-ups today. Official figures released last week show that high street banks missed their ‘Project Merlin’ lending target to small firms by £1.1bn. This is pain amplified in London where 25 per cent of the UK’s new businesses start. The continued economic turmoil is stifling growth and threatening to create a lost generation of entrepreneurs.

Peoplefund.it’s Nick Underhill said: “It’s time for people to come together and recognise that not only is there a need for alternative funding solutions, but actually there are a raft of different ways to get funded. Peoplefund.it is seeing huge traction - one of our first projects attracted £40k in 6 days.”

Brent Hoberman, founder of Lastminute.com commented: "New Generation Finance Consortium is a great initiative. Any support that start-ups can get in raising money is crucial for their success, and I'm excited to see the private sector supporting high growth early stage businesses in such an innovative way.”

The Next Generation Finance Consortium, which represents every alternative to bank lending, aims to increase awareness among entrepreneurs of other new and emerging solutions now available to them. It will also organise events for entrepreneurs to network — finding out more about the options that best suit their needs and discussing their experiences with other entrepreneurs who have successfully raised finance by an alternative means.

John Spindler, managing director of Capital Enterprise, one of the founding members of the NGFC said: “This is an exciting time for the business finance industry in the UK; the emergence of so many innovative new models has given entrepreneurs the widest choice of solutions for some time. The emergence of crowdfunding and peer-to-peer finance models are game-changing developments that promise to change the finance landscape forever. Our goal is to raise awareness of these new models to catapult them into entrepreneurs’ consciousness.”

The founding members and steering committee behind the Next Generation Finance Consortium include: peoplefund.it, Crowdcube, MarketInvoice, Capital Enterprise, British Business Angel Association, Community Development Finance Association, Angel Capital Group and North London Community Finance .

To find out more about the Next Generation Finance Consortium visit: www.ngfc.org.uk