The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity is one of Leicester’s oldest charities, having been established in 1542 by Sir Thomas White, a civic benefactor who generously donated money to the people of the city and county; despite never stepping foot in Leicester!
We provide interest-free personal loans to help people within Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland start or develop business ventures, or to enable them to study for postgraduate qualifications.
We get asked this a lot and we understand why some people think it sounds too good to be true. Here’s how we can do what we do… When Sir Thomas White left his endowment to the five counties (Coventry, Warwick, Leicester, Northampton and Nottingham), he stated that only the income generated by that endowment could be used for providing loans – and he instructed that the loans remain interest-free. The endowment, originally £1,100 has grown to around £75 million and the income received is shared by the five counties. The Leicester share of that income is in excess of £270,000 per year. We currently have over £4 million either loaned out or available. Our trustees are not paid and our running costs are low, so in most years, the total available to provide in loans gets bigger.
It is! Regardless of how much you borrow and the loan’s purpose, you will have nine years to pay the loan back, with a three-year break before equal monthly repayments start.
We believe so. We’re a local charity, and so all our trustees are local! We have a good understanding of the local economy and business needs in the area. All of our trustees are really friendly too – and all we want is to see you succeed. From start to finish, you’ll also have one point of contact that oversees everything from the initial enquiry to your loan being fully repaid, which we hope makes things easier when engaging with us.
Yes, providing you meet our other eligibility criteria, you can apply!
It’s absolutely true. We want to ensure you’re in as strong a position as possible before your repayments commence, and feel three years provides time for you to grow your business or complete your postgraduate studies and find employment.
Of course. We understand that for many new business owners, it can be the first time needing to look at forecasts and financial figures. That’s why we have partnered with a number of business support providers and accountants, who will provide you with a FREE consultation to look over things with you. Click here for more information, but a list is also included in our application pack.
The success rate of applicants changes from year-to-year, but we’ll put it this way: it’s high. Each year, our funding is boosted by the central Sir Thomas White trust. So, unlike other lenders, you’re not competing with other people for limited funds available. Your likelihood of being approved for one of our loans solely relies on the strength of your own application and proposals for your business.
To be eligible to borrow from charity, you need to be aged over 18 and under 45 and living in Leicester, Leicestershire or Rutland. If you are currently 44 years of age, please contact us before making an application. If you’re a business loan applicant, the business must operate from within Leicester, Leicestershire or Rutland. Education loan applicants must have been residents in the eligible area for three years or more. If you’re a student currently studying outside the county, but whose family home is still within the county, you’re also eligible.
The original Trust deed specified loans were only to be made to young persons and originally that was set at under 35 years of age. With Charity Commission consent, the upper age limit was raised to under 45 in 2019, as many people are commencing new ventures at later stages in life.
This stems from the original Trust deed issued in 1542 when the charity was established. The deed stipulates loans could only be made to residents of the city of Leicester. This has since been approved to expand to the county borders, including Rutland. There are neighbouring Sir Thomas White charities in Coventry, Warwick, Northampton and Nottingham, so they each deal with their respective areas.
If you’re applying for an interest-free loan for business purposes, the maximum you can borrow is £20,000. For anybody applying for an interest-free loan to aid postgraduate education, the maximum you can borrow is £10,000. You don’t need to apply for the maximum amount. In fact, you should apply for less if you do not need the full amount. If you receive a loan for business purposes then you can apply a second time for the difference between your original loan and the maximum amount. This is called a top-up loan. However, any one applicant can only borrow the maximum amount. In other words, you can’t apply for one £20,000 loan for business and apply for a second later. It’s one maximum loan per-person.
We operate on a quarterly cycle, with four quarterly application deadlines and rounds of interviews with applicants taking place each year. Please check our key dates page for details regarding approaching deadlines / future rounds. Following the application deadline, eligible applicants will be invited to an interview. After interview, applications will be discussed and approved at the next board meeting, with applicants notified shortly after if they have been successful or not.
If, for any reason, you’re unable to make any repayments to your loan, guarantors provide assurance to the charity the loan will be repaid. As we’re providing a potentially large sum of money as an interest-free loan, we naturally need to have measures in place to ensure the funds are repaid so the funds are then available for the next borrower. A small number of loans are made each year to applicants who simply can’t find guarantors. Only the best applications will be selected, and the amounts available for such loans is restricted.
We conduct a credit check on the applicant and guarantors as this helps us to identify the credit score for each person and if there are any active CCJs (County Court Judgements) or insolvency for each person. It also helps us to confirm identity and current address for yourself and your guarantors and also satisfies our anti-money laundering obligations.
Having a bad, or low, credit score will not necessarily negatively affect your application. However, if you have any active CCJs which show on your credit check, then we will be unable to take your application forward until resolved (debt settled or cancelled). If you have any concerns we recommend you call us ahead of making the application to discuss your individual circumstances.
As part of the application for a loan, you will be invited to attend an interview with two or three of our friendly trustees. It won’t take long (15 – 30 minutes) and is a great opportunity to tell the charity about your business or course, and plans for the future. Particularly in the case of business loan applicants, the interview gives the charity an understanding of how the loan will help, ensure you have all of your figures up to scratch and assure the charity the business has the best chance of success. If your loan was for business purposes, your contact with trustees will also continue throughout the duration of your loan, with trustees visiting you to see how you’re getting on.
Your loan repayments start three years after the date you complete on your loan, giving you three years to get your business going/developed OR to have completed your course and found a salaried role within your industry. Repayments are made over six years in 72 equal monthly instalments. For example, if you borrow £14,400, you would repay £200 per month for 72 months. You can repay early and there is no early repayment fee incurred.
The original Trust deed specified loans of £9 for nine years. The maximum loan now for a business is £20,000. You could not do a lot these days with £9! The loan amount has been reviewed regularly, but the term has remained fixed at nine years and we see no reason to shorten or extend the loan period.
If you submit your application after the deadline it may still be considered in the current round. If you think you might miss the deadline for the current quarter, please contact us to discuss the options available to you.

Loans for Business Purposes

You can run any kind of business. There are no restrictions on the type of business – as long as it’s legal! All we expect is the business is set up within six months of taking out the loan, that it becomes your sole/main source of income within three years of taking out the loan and you remain living and trading in the eligible area.
Yes. Our loans are available to start-ups and developing businesses requiring funding, especially if you have been turned down by other potential lenders.
Yes, as long as you retain a minimum stake of 50% in the entity throughout the entire nine-year term of the loan. If your stake falls below 50%, you will be required to repay the loan in full immediately.
Yes. Our loans can only be utilised to assist businesses within Leicester, Leicestershire or Rutland.
As lenders, the charity wants to ensure our loans are provided to business ventures which have the best chance of being successful, not only to protect those applying for a loan, but to ensure the loan is likely to be repaid in full. In producing a business plan, applicants can show trustees the facts and figures which support their application. However, we also know many first-time business owners have never had to worry about running the books – which is why FREE professional support is on offer to all business loan applicants. In addition, as part of the loan agreement, borrowers will be required to submit their business accounts annually, so producing these supporting documents will help you throughout your business journey.

Loans for Education Purposes

No. Provided you meet our eligibility criteria of being a resident in the eligible area for three or more years, the loan can be utilised to help you study anywhere in the world.