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First Enterprise members at Virtually Golf

First Enterprise

First Enterprise

Published: March 23, 2023

Region: East Midlands

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SMEs in the East Midlands benefit from £4.5m funding from Unity Trust Bank

A Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) which was set up to support ethnic minority communities after the Nottingham Riots in the 1980s has gone on to help thousands of SMEs.

First Enterprise supports business owners who face barriers to mainstream funding and over the past decade has lent £48m to more than 1,600 businesses in the East Midlands, safeguarding over 3,350 jobs.

In 2022, Unity match funded £4.5m from Community Investment Enterprise Fund (CIEF) to enable First Enterprise to continue supporting SMEs.

Daniel Carrico, CEO, said: “What sets Unity apart from other banks is that they care about the businesses they work with and about creating social impact. The bank has always taken the time to understand our business model. They provide the support needed to help us fill the gap left in the market by traditional high street lenders.

“Our relationship manager exceeds our expectations of a usual banking relationship. These personal connections are rare today but are very valuable.”


Sixty per cent of First Enterprise’s lending goes into some of the most deprived areas in the UK.

Unity and CIEF’s funding will help support SMEs in cities such as Nottingham, Leicester, Northampton, Lincoln, Luton and Derby. Priority is given to underrepresented businesses and the communities they serve.

Daniel said: “Our aim is to get funding into these areas for people to grow their businesses. Our loans make a real difference. These SMEs wouldn’t have access to affordable finance if it wasn’t for CDFIs like us and organisations like Unity.

“We fill a gap in the market where businesses are struggling to raise the funding they need.

“We’ve worked with some fantastic, viable businesses that have had great ideas and address some of the most difficult issues within our society but have struggled because they were let down by the banking industry.”