Alternative sources of money in today's economy are still averse to lending, despite government pronouncements about money beginning to flow again. A couple of weeks ago, the Telegraph created an ideal business loan customer on paper, and contacted all the big banks through their small business call centres. Not one bank was interested (was that the sound of crickets chirping in the background?) The banks' assertion that the stagnant pool of money is due to "collapse in demand" doesn't square with the Telegraph's findings.

So it should be no surprise that alternative sources of funding have become more popular as the recession drags on. Here are three of them:

1. Pawn shops. A Nikolas Michael pawn shop recently opened in London's financial district, and business has been brisk as financial workers hock Rolex watches, diamonds, and other pricey goodies they acquired when times were better.

2. Gold jewellery parties. Suburban housewives get together to drink wine and sell old jewellery. Though more popular in America than in the UK, gold scrapping soirees feature a hostess and an appraiser with a bag of money. Women in their 40s dig up the massive chains they wore  during the 80s and make a little easy cash. It saves those who look down on pawn shops from actually having to go to one.

3. Zopa is a private lending marketplace that bypasses banks and provides small loans at competitive interest rates. It also offers a savings account that reportedly has an annual return rate of 8.6%. Lenders do have the option of hand picking their borrowers.

What do you think?

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