iwoca, one of Europe’s largest business lenders, is to open a new office in Leeds.
The city will eventually accommodate up to 100 employees and be home to iwoca’s growing team of developers, customer support officers and relationship managers. The first office is due to open early in the new year.
The company received support from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Trade and Investment team and the Department of International Trade throughout the decision-making process.
iwoca is in a period of rapid growth and has increased headcount by 50 percent in the last year. The small business lender currently employs over 300 people (increasing to around 400 by the end of 2020), with the majority in its London offices, 10 in Frankfurt, and up to 100 new jobs created in Leeds by 2023.
Earlier this year, iwoca announced that it had secured a £10m grant via the Capability and Innovation Fund with the aim of helping businesses improve lending or payment services to SMEs across the UK. As part of the win, iwoca committed to opening a regional office to better serve its UK-wide customer base, of which 79 percent are outside of London.
“Leeds has a strong heritage in financial services and banking, but we wanted to play a major role in the city’s Fintech evolution,” said Seema Desai, iwoca’s chief operating officer.
“We looked at several cities and Leeds stood out as a natural second home from where we could support even more small businesses across the UK. We were particularly impressed with the size and quality of Leeds’ talent pool, its strong and improving infrastructure, as well as the city’s own distinctive culture and soul. But, we remain at the start of our journey – our aim is to fund one million small businesses so we need smart, hands-on people to help us reach this goal.”
Roger Marsh OBE DL, chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and NP11, said: “It’s great to welcome iwoca, one of Europe’s largest Fintechs, to Leeds City Region following a national selection exercise.
“The region is the second centre for banking in the UK employing over 28,500 and home to over 30 national and international banks which provides a very favourable ecosystem for Fintechs to thrive. This coupled with a pipeline bursting with talent and a supportive business environment, ensures that the region is an attractive place for global fintech companies to invest and grow.”
Coun Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “We are delighted to welcome iwoca to Leeds. Its ethos and commitment to helping small businesses aligns with our ambitions locally, and its presence in the city will be a real win for both the local economy and our smaller businesses.”