Farm life inspired help for small companies
8 February 2018, 19:21
It was life on an Australian farm that inspired Lex Greensill to form a business out of helping small companies get finance.
Lex Greensill began life on a sugar farm in the Australian town of Bundaberg, but it was living on the farm that inspired his business.
It made him determined to ensure what he calls the "democratisation of capital" - meaning smaller companies as well as the big boys could access the finance they needed to compete.
He told Sky's Ian King Live programme: "I grew up on a small farm where we found ourselves under pressure from the big multi-national companies who don't always pay their bills on time."
He began to develop ideas on how suppliers could access more efficient financing, regardless of their size.
Greensill Capital now employs 150 people in London, New York, Chicago, Frankfurt, Sydney and Mexico City.
Among its clients are Liberty House - the owner of much of what remains of the UK's steel industry - and low-cost airline Norwegian.
The business makes funds available to small companies using the credit-worthiness of their big customers, meaning they have access to what Mr Greensill describes as "ultra-cheap capital".
Last year, they delivered $20bn of capital to 1.3 million SMEs in 50 countries using the latest technology, he said.
"(Lack of finance for SMEs) is a global problem and it's a problem that's not going to get any less, and so that provides a great opportunity for us as a British firm to deliver that to the world.
"The average APR or cost of money that we provide is around 1%, which is cheaper than almost any SME in the world is going to be able to borrow money."
He added: "The truth is, the banks can't keep up with the technology - the financial, the legal and the capital markets technology that we've built is what allows us to beat them at their own game.
"Everything we do is online, so it doesn't matter if you're in Colombia or Coventry - it's one click and we can deliver cash to you on the same day."
Mr Greensill received a CBE at Buckingham Palace on Thursday for services to the British economy, even inviting his mother from Australia for the occasion.
He said: "I couldn't go to university because we didn't have the money on our farm, so mum never got to go to my graduation. So in a way today was the graduation my mum had never been able to go to."
(c) Sky News 2018: Farm life inspired help for small companies