We're excited to announce that Joanna Hill has joined GFA Exchange Advisory Board!

Joel Blake
May 17, 2021

Joanna Hill, former CEO of Start Up Loans, and Chief Commercial Officer of Ask Inclusive Finance, joins the advisory board at GFA Exchange. Through working together, our aim is to create positive change across the financial services industry by building long-lasting relationships between lenders and borrowers, aiming to make access to finance more inclusive by lending to female and BAME-led businesses.

A key step forward for the industry

Joanna Hill, an influential powerhouse within the financial services sector, has recently joined the advisory board at GFA Exchange. Joanna brings a wealth of experience in inclusive lending, as both former CEO of Start Up Loans, and the Chief Commercial Officer at Ask Inclusive Finance; one of the few female-led Fintechs in the UK. 

Joanna’s involvement with GFA Exchange will assist us to lead positive change across the financial services industry. Joanna stated: 

“The responsibilities of inclusive and responsible lenders goes well beyond simply providing access to funding. Lenders also need to be willing to walk alongside the businesses they have funded and help them to succeed and grow. GFA Exchange offers the potential for lenders such as AskIf to see the impact funding has had on the health of those businesses and to identify where additional support may be required. These insights will help us, and the broader finance sector, to better understand the business communities we are here to serve”. 

Small businesses have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic - SMEs are more likely to operate in sectors vulnerable to COVID-19 than larger companies - which has seen a disproportionate number of these businesses fold in the last year due to lack of cash flow and funding. 

On top of this, a recent case study on Diversity Data by the British Business Bank found that businesses founded by women, black, Asian and minority ethic (BAME) members are often bypassed by mainstream lending schemes, with only twelve out of 252 companies approved for the Future Fund being BAME-led. Joanna is working in an effort, alongside GFA Exchange, to overcome and shift this injustice within the financial services sector. 

Joel Blake OBE, founder of GFA Exchange welcomes the new appointment; “We are delighted to welcome Joanna Hill, as a member of our forward thinking Advisory Board for the GFA Exchange. Joanna’s experience and understanding of finance, business support and inclusion is vital at this key stage of our business and industries development and growth. Our aim at GFA Exchange is to positively disrupt the financial industry by putting the spotlight on the importance of data to drive more inclusive access to finance”.

Joanna oversaw the delivery of funding and mentoring to 70,000 UK businesses during her five years at Start Up Loans. Now, as the CCO of AskIf, she is working with the same energy and enthusiasm to support businesses that have been trading for a year or more. Her commitment to inclusive lending continues with AskIf, delivering funding into many businesses that have been declined support by mainstream lenders, including many female and BAME-led businesses. 

Not only does she pave the way for accessible and inclusive lending, but Joanna is determined to change the way lenders build long-lasting relationships with their borrowers by working alongside them, providing continuous support and advice. AskIf’s innovative lending and support strategy has, to date, allowed them to proudly be voted as a UK Top 50 Startup, selected as one of the prestigious Innovation 50, and won a Rising Stars Award. 

With her enthusiasm, determination and plethora of experience, Joanna has been - and will surely continue to be - instrumental in the work to create a more inclusive financial services industry. Her partnership with GFA Exchange - working to identify and fund overlooked, yet worthy businesses - brings great hope and excitement to the future of SMEs, and female and BAME-led businesses. 

About AskIf 

Ask Inclusive Finance is a true Fintech: one of the few female-led Fintechs in the UK. A small, highly motivated team: focused, nimble and ambitious, with deep finance industry experience and fantastic industry partnerships.

They are dynamic, fast-paced, and always evolving but they keep their kindness and integrity, and a human touch at the core of everything they do. AskIf expects to quickly become a dominant inclusive lender for Entrepreneurs and small companies - and the largest national Community Development Finance Institution (CFDI).