2023 has been a challenging year for businesses across the world, with rising costs, volatile demand and ongoing economic uncertainty. As ever, much of this falls on SMEs, the engine of growth in countries, communities and families, who can struggle to access the liquidity they need to cope with change.
That’s why we take our role supporting businesses with flexible financing so seriously. Our 2023 has been marked by significant growth in the number, scope and impact of our SME engagements, working with new, innovative partnerships, launching innovative products and continuing our commitment to empowering SMEs across the globe. This year saw us pass 150,000 fundings for the first time, reflected in a remarkable year for the business.
Expanding the mission of embedded financing
As we build new products, forge new partnerships and expand into new regions, we depend on our team of technology and commercial experts to deliver for our customers, alongside new partnerships.
Our people have been the backbone of our success at every stage of our mission. From a modest team of 33 in 2020, our team has grown to an incredible 329 employees in 2023. The rapid growth in our headcount reflects our expanding global presence and the increasing demand for a modern version of finance from businesses.
New partners, new regions, new reach
We’ve also been lucky enough to work with some remarkable new partners this year, adding new collaborations with leaders such as FreshBooks, Amazon, and Glovo. These partnerships have enabled us to extend our reach and offer more tailored financial solutions to a wider audience.
Our journey this year also took us to new geographies as we scaled our operations significantly in the United States, Spain, Germany, and Poland. This expansion is part of our strategic plan to make our financial solutions accessible to SMEs around the world, providing them with the necessary tools to thrive in today's competitive market as financial conditions remain challenging.
New products: Bringing more flexibility to businesses
With businesses facing more volatility in the market, we launched our new "Flexible Financing Line" to provide the autonomy and control business owners need to manage uncertainty.
With flexible financing, businesses can apply for a line of credit to access on demand, only paying for what they use, with the peace of mind that there is more available whenever they need it.
Our platform provides complete transparency upfront, with offers and fee structures outlined on the application. Once the credit line is established, owners can choose an amount, submit a request, and get the funds in their bank account in as little as 24 hours. It’s modern financing for modern business.
Creating a sustainable impact
One of our proudest moments this year was our independent report from Experian analysing the impact of the work that we do every day. The analysis looked at the social effect of 100,000+ instances of financing on YouLend’s platform for women-led, ethnic minority-led, and financially disadvantaged businesses.
The investigation found that YouLend has advanced economic activity by contributing £6.8 billion in SME revenue to the UK GDP since 2019 - promoting a notable 14% growth in headcount for businesses around the world and a 26% increase in sales within 6 months for YouLend-funded SMEs, allowing them to succeed in a turbulent economy.
Other key findings include:
- YouLend was 2x more likely to approve financing for female-led businesses than the UK average
- 58% of our capital went to areas where ethnic minorities were greater than one-third
- 31% of YouLend funding went to the most deprived quintile of the population.
YouLend in the news
With more eyes turning to the power of embedded finance, we’ve been honoured to be part of the conversation on this crucial topic, from our CEO Jakob being interviewed in the Financial Times’ Future of Banking coverage.
We had a strong year with our broker team walking away with the trophy for "BDM Team of the Year" at the NACFB Awards.
We were thrilled to see our General Counsel Yara Owayyed as named a "Business Leader of the Year" at the Women in Credit Awards. Meanwhile in October, our CEO Jakob Pethick spoke at the AltFi Lending Summit 2023, discussing the future of a "one-size-fits-all" lending solution, and how YouLend can support its partners with unique solutions based on their customers' needs.
Onwards and upwards in 2024!
As we close the chapter on 2023, we remain committed to our purpose of innovating the world of finance and lending to help more SMEs grow. Our journey so far has been incredible, but we believe the best is yet to come as we bring the benefits of embedded finance to more platforms and businesses.
With our dedicated team, new solutions coming down the pipeline, and the continued support of our partners and merchants - 2024 is poised to be a game-changing year.