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SMALL BUSINESS LOAN FUND PASSES £6M MARK

300 Firms Supported & c.£30M in New Sales Generated

 

A specialist loan fund created to support smaller businesses has provided more than £6m in new loans since it was launched four years ago.  To date the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund (the Fund) is estimated to have helped create over 150 new jobs and additional sales of almost £30m.

The Fund is managed by Ulster Community Finance (UCF) on behalf of Invest Northern Ireland and delivered in partnership with Enterprise Northern Ireland. UCF is a subsidiary of the social finance organisation Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT).

The Fund was set up to provide access to finance for small businesses, sole traders and partnerships which are keen to develop their business, but find it difficult to access funding through traditional sources.

Harry McDaid, UCIT’s CEO said:

“Northern Ireland has the highest concentration of SMEs in the UK and accounts for 99% of our private sector.  Ensuring that these firms have adequate access to funding is, therefore, essential for the well-being of the economy.

“The Fund’s clients are ambitious, growth-orientated firms and together they represent significant levels of employment and wealth creation.  Northern Ireland needs to grow its own pool of successful indigenous companies and we’re confident that some of tomorrow’s star business performers will be beneficiaries of this Fund.”

William McCulla, Invest NI’s Director of Corporate Finance said:

“Now in its fifth year, the Small Business Loan Fund is continuing to make a significant difference to the business community in Northern Ireland by boosting business confidence and ensuring SMEs have access to the type of finance needed to support their growth and development.

 

“We are delighted to have offered this support to a range of businesses across Northern Ireland in sectors including IT, Manufacturing, Hospitality, Tourism and Retail, which has helped to create jobs, bring new products to market and help company’s realise their growth ambitions.”

One of the firms to benefit from the Fund is Brocagh Precision Engineering Ltd (BPE), located near Coalisland.  The firm designs and manufactures bespoke components for clients in sectors ranging from heavy engineering to aerospace.

Paul Donnelly, BPE Director, said:

“BPE provides bespoke precision engineering services for clients across the UK and Ireland.  The funds provided by NISBLF have enabled us to invest in new machinery and provide working capital.  This has allowed BPE to develop new products for the construction and demolition sector, expand into new markets and increase efficiency within the company. Following the completion of two recent projects we have secured a number of export orders for our new product range and have seen our sales grow by 20%. As these new orders go into production we have plans in place to increase our staff to meet demand and to grow the business.”

Donal Leahy, Senior Lending Executive, Enterprise NI, added:

“This fund was a new and unique offering in the marketplace and has been a huge success to date. As we are now in the fifth year of the fund we have the advantage of being able to look back at many of the projects that clients pursued which generated tangible benefits for their businesses.  A funding gap in the market for SMEs is now being covered and we aim to sustain and exceed this provision over the coming years.”

The Fund provides loans of up to £50,000 to start-ups, micro enterprises and small businesses.  As a revolving fund it’s expected that a figure in excess of £7m will be made available over the course of the fund’s lifetime.

For more information please contact:

Karen Grimason

E: Karen@stakeholdergroup.com

T: 028 9033 9949

M: 07895566436

About UCIT

Since it was established in 2001 UCIT has provided loan support to a broad range of third sector organisations including sports clubs, community associations, charities, green energy, enterprise agencies, faith-based organisations, social housing schemes and the arts.

As a registered charity, all profits generated by UCIT are retained and recycled for the benefit of its clients.

Since the drawdown of UCIT’s first loan in 2001, it has assisted over 400 third sector organisations with loan commitments totalling over £60 million. In Northern Ireland, £51m of loans were approved between 2001-2016. In the Republic of Ireland, €22m of loans were approved between 2007-2016.

Loan commitments have been directed to projects which make an important contribution to the economic, physical and social wellbeing of local communities. In many (perhaps most) instances these projects would not have been possible without the flexible but professional approach adopted by the Trust in its lending.

Hamilton congratulates Small Business Loan Fund as it hits £5million landmark

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA has congratulated specialist loan fund as it hits more than £5m in new loans.

Hamilton congratulates Small Business Loan Fund as it hits £5million landmark
Hamilton congratulates Small Business Loan Fund as it hits £5million landmark

 

The Small Business Loan Fund was launched just over three years ago to provide access to finance for small businesses, sole traders and partnerships which are keen to develop their business, but find it difficult to access funding through traditional sources.

It is managed by Ulster Community Investment plc (UCI) on behalf of Invest Northern Ireland and delivered in partnership with Enterprise Northern Ireland. UCI is a subsidiary of social finance organisation Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT).

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA said: “Access to finance is often the main obstacle for businesses starting up and growing.  This fund has helped its clients generate an extra £26.5m in sales and create 144 new jobs across 260 companies which is an important step in helping our economy to grow.  Our economy is reliant on small business, therefore helping them with access to finance is hugely important.”

Harry McDaid, UCIT’s CEO said: “SMEs and social enterprises are the bedrock of Northern Ireland’s economy, but it has proven increasingly difficult for entrepreneurs in the sector to secure finance from traditional sources.  Demand, however, is clearly there, with over 260 loans provided to date and rising.

“The Fund is still open with facilities of up to £50,000 available. As a revolving fund it’s expected that between £7m and £8m will be made available in total over the Fund’s lifetime.”

Michael Carlin from Enterprise Northern Ireland added: “This Fund has enabled many small businesses to pursue projects that otherwise would not have happened.  It has encouraged business growth through new product development, export sales and employment.  The recent interim evaluation report clearly shows the positive impact the Fund has on the economy and demand continues to grow.

“For many SMEs winning new sales and business is not the problem. Growth, however, brings greater demands for working capital and infrastructural investment to support efficiency and sustainability.  The Fund aims to meet these needs where banks or other alternative providers cannot – ensuring business expansion and increased employment.”

Belfast Sports Company Goes Global With Funding Support

Belfast sports company goes global with funding supportBelfast-based Teamwear Ireland has tripled its market share in the Republic of Ireland and recruited 14 new staff since securing a £50,000 loan from the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund (the Fund) in 2013.  The company has recently received another £27,000 from the Fund to support future growth.

 

The Fund is managed by Ulster Community Investment plc (UCI) on behalf of Invest Northern Ireland. UCI is a subsidiary of social finance organisation Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT).

 

Teamwear Ireland was started in 2010 to supply branded sports clothing and equipment.  Increased production and need for storage has seen the company expand its facilities at Stockmans Way from 2,800 sq ft to 4,500 sq ft.  The business is now exporting its products globally.

 

John Anderson, Owner of Teamwear Ireland said: “The original loan from the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund allowed us to invest in two new embroidery machines to produce high-end sportswear.  This was a service we outsourced previously but now we have the technology to provide it in house.  As a result we have been able to offer customers a complete one stop customisation of their product.

 

“Since then we have taken on a further 10 staff, expanded our existing premises in Belfast and tripled our market share in RoI.  We have sales reps right across Ireland and we have also expanded our distribution channels right around the world.

 

“We are in the process of implementing a unique new software system that will significantly improve our internal processes & make our workflow faster and more efficient.  This will further improve our service levels to customers and with the further addition of a customer portal, Teamwear Ireland will only strengthen our position as the leader in our market.”

 

Speaking of UCI’s support Mr Anderson commented: “Our growth over the past three years is underpinned by the support we have received from the Fund.  When we approached them for a second loan they were very happy to help.  They have always supported our vision for the business and see the potential for us to be one of the leading sportswear providers in the world.”

 

Finance Director of UCIT, Barry Connolly, said: “Teamwear Ireland has experienced tremendous growth since we supported them three years ago.  The business has a very strong management team in place and has become a major player in the sportswear market.

 

“We are delighted to have been able to provide Teamwear Ireland with a second loan which will help them with future growth.  The Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund was set up to help businesses from a wide range of sectors grow and realise their potential.  Teamwear Ireland is one of many success stories for the Fund and we look forward to hearing how the latest loan will drive their ambition forward.”

 

The Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund provides access to finance for small businesses, sole traders and partnerships which are keen to develop their business, but find it difficult to access funding through traditional sources.

Pictured is John Anderson, Owner of Teamwear Ireland with Barry Connolly, Finance Director of UCIT.

View the interview here – https://vimeo.com/158154520

LOAN FUND PROVIDES OVER £1.5M TO SMALL BUSINESSES IN 2015

20151218 ShnugglePictured is Adam and Sinead Murphy, Owners of Shnuggle with Harry McDaid, Chief Executive of UCI; William McCulla, Director of Corporate Finance at Invest NI and Michael Carlin, NI Small Business Loan Fund Manager.

Over 70 small business in Northern Ireland have benefitted from the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund (the Fund) this year, as it confirms today that upwards of £1.5m has been made available during 2015.

 

The Fund is managed by Ulster Community Investment plc (UCI) on behalf of Invest Northern Ireland and delivered in partnership with Enterprise Northern Ireland. UCI is a subsidiary of social finance organisation Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT).

 

The Fund has helped support companies from a wide range of sectors including IT, leisure, tourism, food processing, construction and many others.  Funding has been provided for general start-up costs, refurbishment and repairs, machinery, franchise development, exporting in addition to working capital finance to finance expansion.

 

Chief Executive of UCIT, Harry McDaid, said that the Fund had surpassed expectations: “At this stage we have assisted over 200 SME businesses aggregating debt support over £4 million and the demand continues to grow. These are businesses – both start up and established, which cannot access finance through conventional channels yet they are managed by passionate and competent promoters who have put their capital at risk and in the process translated their plans to cash flow and job creation.

 

“The Fund is also open to social enterprises and a number of organisations in that broad sector have availed of it.  These included a community café, dance studio and a print works.  We are delighted to be able to support these businesses in their growth ambitions and to help many others get off the ground.

William McCulla, Director of Corporate Finance at Invest NI commented: “This is excellent news for small businesses in Northern Ireland and for the Small Business Loan Fund which plays an important role in supporting the vital growth of businesses in Northern Ireland.

“Northern Ireland is home to a wealth of talented businesses which are a major contributor to our economy and it is only right that we support them as best we can. We know that it can sometimes be hard for these businesses to raise funds for projects and the availability of the small business loan fund can make all the difference.

“Reaching this milestone clearly shows that there is a definite need for this fund and we would encourage ambitious businesses to contact the fund managers and apply for this loan scheme.”

Michael Carlin, NI Small Business Loan Fund Manager said: “Demand for this fund is still high and is servicing a gap in the market for both early stage and existing businesses looking to grow.

 

“Our funding is complimentary to other sources of business finance within the marketplace and in many cases has helped to leverage mainstream bank support. Our application process has also been welcomed by clients with a 2-3 week turnaround time and dedicated loan executive’s available to help with any issues during the assessment or post loan draw down.”

 

One of the companies to have recently benefitted from the Fund is Newtownards-based Shnuggle, who received a £40,000 loan to cover working capital finance. Shnuggle was formed in 2009 by husband and wife team, Sinead and Adam Murphy. The company designs and manufactures a range of award winning baby products including an innovative and hypoallergenic modern mosses basket. Its products are currently being sold in 22 countries, with stockists including John Lewis, Mamas & Papas, Mothercare and Argos.

 

Sinead Murphy, Business Development Director at Shnuggle said: “The business started out six years ago in our garage and we never imagined it would have grown to the heights it has.  We have recently secured a listing with Tesco and Tesco Direct for our products which will go live in the next two months.

 

“The loan from the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund has enabled us to purchase stock to keep up with the high demand for our products.  We want to keep developing and designing innovative products.  We currently have a team of four but will look to take on a graphic designer and some marketing staff in the future.”

The Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund provides access to finance for small businesses, sole traders and partnerships which are keen to develop their business, but find it difficult to access funding through traditional sources. Those interested in finding out more about the Fund can visit www.nisblf.com

Holohans opens second restaurant in Belfast

Emir and Calvin Holohan; Holohans Pantry with Harry McDaid; UCIT. Picture: Elaine Hill

Emir and Calvin Holohan; Holohans Pantry with Harry McDaid; UCIT. Picture: Elaine Hill

Belfast-based Holohans is set to open a second restaurant in Belfast following a £100,000 investment that will create 12 new jobs in year one.  The new restaurant will be known as Holohans Pantry, situated in the Queen’s Quarter.  An investment was secured from the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund (the Fund) to help fit out the restaurant.

 

The Fund is managed by Ulster Community Investment plc (UCI) on behalf of Invest Northern Ireland. UCI is a subsidiary of social finance organisation Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT).

 

The highly successful Holohans at the Barge, situated at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall, opened in November 2013.  The restaurant is a family run business which prides itself on using local produce and updating classic Irish cuisines with a modern twist.  The family has decided to open a second restaurant because of growing demand from customers and the success of the Barge.

 

Calvin Holohan, Head Chef at Holohans commented: “Our first restaurant has been so successful that we’re having to turn customers away.  It has created a real buzz and there is the demand for us to open a second outlet.

 

“The Queen’s Quarter area is an ideal location due to its proximity to Queens University and high footfall.  It’s a well-known spot with a lot of good restaurants but we feel we offer something different that sets us apart.

 

Mr Holohan added: “The loan from The Small Business Loan Fund has enabled us to purchase all the necessary kitchen equipment as well as fully furnish the restaurant.”

 

Eimer Holohan, Head of Marketing said: “We want to build on our two restaurants and create a framework that could be replicated to open additional outlets, not just in Belfast but across Northern Ireland.  We are also looking at developing a private function room targeting corporate events, weddings and private events.

 

“The food manufacturing sector is another area we are currently looking at for next year.  Our brand name is well known and we feel there is a gap in the market for us to create our own products.”

 

Chief Executive of UCIT, Harry McDaid, commented: “The Holohans are precisely the type of management team that the NI Small Business Loan Fund is keen to invest in.  They have researched and understand their market and deliver a differentiated product which consistently fulfils the high expectations of their patrons. The Hospitality sector is recognised as one of the most challenging to succeed in but Holohans have demonstrated their competency to do so.

 

“Belfast is thriving once again and the Hospitality sector has led the way. Holohans have invested their experience and capital and the Small Business Loan Fund is proud to have supported them”.”

 

The Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund provides access to finance for small businesses, sole traders and partnerships which are keen to develop their business, but find it difficult to access funding through traditional sources. Those interested in finding out more about the Fund can visit www.nisblf.com

NI Small Business Loan Fund reaches £2.5m mark

William McCulla, Invest NI, Nuala Campbell, MD Titanic Creative Management, Gordon Gough, Enterprise NI and Barry Connolly, UCI. Picture: Elaine Hill

William McCulla, Invest NI, Nuala Campbell, MD Titanic Creative Management, Gordon Gough, Enterprise NI and Barry Connolly, UCI. Picture: Elaine Hill

The £5m Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund (the Fund) has distributed £2.5m in loans in less than two years to businesses across Northern Ireland. The Fund is managed by Ulster Community Investment plc (UCI) on behalf of Invest Northern Ireland and delivered in partnership with Enterprise Northern Ireland. UCI is a subsidiary of social finance organisation Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT).

 

The Fund provides access to finance for small businesses, sole traders and partnerships which are keen to develop their business but find it difficult to access funding through traditional sources.

 

Finance Director of UCIT, Barry Connolly said: “Since setting up the fund in 2013 we have approved 120 loans totalling £2.5m.  The Fund has helped support companies from a very wide range of sectors including IT, food processing, construction, leisure, tourism and many others.  We are delighted to be able to support these small businesses in their growth ambitions and to help many others get off the ground.”

 

William McCulla, Director of Corporate Finance, Invest NI said: “The Small Business Loan Fund has been a real success to date.  It has provided much needed access to funds to a wide range of businesses across all of Northern Ireland.  The fund continues to attract strong interest and remains an important part of our Access to Finance portfolio.”

 

Gordon Gough, Chief Executive of Enterprise NI added: “The NI Small Business Loan Fund has been a very welcome addition to the funding environment within Northern Ireland. The activity to date has clearly shown that the fund is filling a gap in the market. It is very encouraging that we have seen so many success stories recently from clients supported by the fund and we aim for this to continue over the coming years.”
One business to benefit recently from the Fund is Titanic Creative Management.  Its Managing Director, Nuala Campbell, said: “The loan we secured has allowed us to open Northern Ireland’s first training and management agency for costumiers and hair and make-up artists.  I have been a professional make-up artist in TV and film for many years and spotted a gap in the market to upskill local employees to meet the demand for skilled artists in the ever growing entertainment production industry in Northern Ireland.  The Small Business Loan Fund has been incredibly supportive in helping me kick start the business.”

 

The Fund has proven to be a very effective way for people right across Northern Ireland to set up their own business, or for existing business owners keen to expand. Those interested in finding out more about the Fund can visit www.nisblf.com

Sense of adventure brings expansion for Rostrevor firm

Ian and Mark Cummings from East Coast Adventures launching their camping pods to Harry McDaid, Chief Executive of UCI. Picture: Elaine Hill

Ian and Mark Cummings from East Coast Adventures launching their camping pods to Harry McDaid, Chief Executive of UCI. Picture: Elaine Hill

Rostrevor-based firm East Coast Adventure has received a boost to its business in the shape of a loan from the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund (the Fund) which has enabled it to expand its infrastructure and in the process create new jobs.

The Fund is managed by Ulster Community Investment plc (UCI) on behalf of Invest Northern Ireland. UCI is a subsidiary of social finance organisation Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT).

Founded in 1991 East Coast Adventure started out as a one man operation hiring canoes on the beach in Warrenpoint.  Today the firm headed up by Mark, Ian and Jennifer Cumming employs 30 people and provides an outdoor education programme, leisure pursuits and corporate team building activities from five locations around Carlingford Lough.  Over the last five years the firm has expanded to include a water-based activity centre, a mountain bike centre with the only uplift service in Northern Ireland, a golf driving range and Bunkhouse accommodation in the Knockbarragh Valley just outside Rostrevor village.  The business has proved particularly popular over the summer months attracting up to 200 visitors per day.

The investment has allowed the firm to build six self-catering camping pods and create three additional jobs.

Mark Cumming, managing director said: “We approached the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund for support to help us expand our outdoor facilities.  The concept of camping has evolved over the last number of years with the emergence of glamping and these pod facilities, which bring a little bit of luxury to camping, have become very popular across the world.

“The pods contain a table and seating area that can sleep up to four people, with one of the pods being converted into a toilet and shower facility.  There is also an external camp kitchen and BBQ area for people to prepare meals. Our camping pods have proven very successful and we’re already looking to expand their offering.  Recently we had a school from Russia spend several weeks here, utilising the pods and taking part in our developing language programme ‘Active Learning Ireland’.”

Highlighting their ambitions for the business, Ian Cumming, operations director stated the company’s intention to continually expand and offer one of a kind camping experiences: “We have plans to build a tepee, as well as creating a communal area for the camping pods.  With these expansions there will be further job creation.  Mark also travelled to Moscow and St Petersburg at the end of September to pitch our developed language programme to seven more schools.”

Chief Executive of UCI, Harry McDaid, said: “Since beginning in 1991, Mark and his team have shown tremendous energy and passion in developing these excellent outdoor facilities around Carlingford Lough.  The business once again demonstrates that far-sighted and competent management can deliver best in class performance across a wide range of sectors from our relatively small geographic base here in Northern Ireland.  It is the type of business the Loan Fund is delighted to support, with further potential for growth and additional job creation a bonus.”

The Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund provides access to finance for small businesses, sole traders and partnerships which are keen to develop their business, but find it difficult to access funding through traditional sources. Those interested in finding out more about the Fund can visit www.nisblf.com

Boost to business for Downpatrick Sauce Company

 

Down Sauce

Downpatrick-based Down Sauce Co Ltd. has received a boost to its business after securing a five figure loan from the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund (the Fund) which has been invested in new machinery and created three new jobs.

 

The Fund is managed by Ulster Community Investment plc (UCI) on behalf of Invest Northern Ireland. UCI is a subsidiary of social finance organisation Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT).

 

Down Sauce Co Ltd. is a family run business with over 30 years’ experience in sauce manufacturing, developing new recipes for companies in the UK and Europe.  The company employs six people, with the business now producing around 30,000 kilograms of sauce per month.  The company’s products range from a variety of different sauces and marinades including Sweet Chilli Sauce, Tandoori Marinade and Lemon, Honey and Rosemary Marinade.

 

Director of Down Sauce Co Ltd, Patrick Murray, said: “In four years the business has experienced tremendous success and grown faster than we expected.  We have worked with chefs from all around the world to create different sauces and marinades using local sourced ingredients.

 

“We approached UCIT for assistance to purchase new machinery which has reduced both cooking time and the packing process to around 2 hours.  This has greatly improved the efficiency of the production process and has allowed us to take on additional staff.”

 

Looking ahead, Orla Mitchell, Sales Operations manager at Down Sauce Co Ltd said: “We will have a real focus on expanding the business into bigger premises and with that bring more jobs to the area.  We want to be able to expand our product range to include mayonnaise, dry blend glazes and a squeezy bottle range.

 

“Export is another area of the business we plan to build on.  We have just broken into England and the Republic of Ireland, and are keen to push our products into wider markets.”

 

Chief Executive of UCIT, Harry McDaid, said: “This is a perfect example of a small business suited to our loan fund. The company has a passionate management team, growing product range and an expanding client base.  They are exploring new markets, building revenues and giving employment opportunities to those seeking them. It is the type of business the Small Business Loan Fund was set up to support and we are very pleased to have done so.”

10 New jobs as Linen Hill opens new outlet

 

Head Chef Shaun Hanna and owners John and Fiona Robinson of Linen Hill Kitchen with UCI Chief Executive, Harry McDaid

Head Chef Shaun Hanna and owners John and Fiona Robinson of Linen Hill Kitchen with UCI Chief Executive, Harry McDaid

Linen Hill has received a £15,000 loan from the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund (the Fund) which has enabled it to open a second outlet in Newcastle, Co Down and create 10 new jobs.

 

The Fund is managed by Ulster Community Investment plc (UCI) on behalf of Invest Northern Ireland. UCI is a subsidiary of social finance organisation Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT).

 

John and Fiona Robinson along with award winning chef & business partner Shaun Hanna, opened Linen Hill Kitchen and Deli at The Outlet Village in Banbridge in 2013.  The restaurants currently employ 30 people

 

John Robinson, general manager said: “The restaurant has been open at The Outlet for two years now and we have experienced tremendous success.  We have a passion for local produce and source many of our ingredients locally, some ingredients such as herbs and salads we grow ourselves.  Each morning Fiona bakes all our breads and scones in store so our customers get the freshest produce possible.

 

“We also have a street food van which we operate at various events such as rugby matches at the Kingspan Stadium, the Dalriada Festival and the Balmoral Show.  We will also be at the Tall Ships event next month and the Linen Fields festival in August.”

 

He added: “The loan has helped us to open a second premises in Newcastle which will bring 10 new jobs to the area.  The restaurant is situated on Main Street which has a high footfall and is a perfect location for our business.  Looking ahead we will judge the success of the new restaurant and there may be potential to roll out similar models across Northern Ireland.”

 

Speaking of the support received from the Fund, Mr Robinson said: “The work and support delivered by the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund is fantastic for SMEs.  They have provided financial assistance for many companies when other lenders have not been willing and we are proud to be able to say we are of these companies.”

 

Chief Executive of UCI, Harry McDaid, said: “Linen Hill was a perfect candidate for Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund support. An experienced management team, passionate about their product, a clearly differentiated business model and price points offering excellent value for money. We wish them every success in this new location and look forward to supporting them further in the future.”

Small Business Loan Fund a real success – Hamilton

Pictured L-R are Kathy McVeigh, Managing Director, Coolsky, Minister Simon Hamilton and Harry McDade, Head of NI Small Business Loan Fund.

Pictured L-R are Kathy McVeigh, Managing Director, Coolsky, Minister Simon Hamilton and Harry McDade, Head of NI Small Business Loan Fund.

Finance Minister Simon Hamilton MLA recently visited renewable energy business Coolsky Ltd in Newtownards, a local business supported by the NI Small Business Loan Fund.

The Fund provides access to finance for small businesses, sole traders and partnerships that find it difficult to secure funding through traditional sources.

Coolsky Ltd design and manufacture solar heating systems and renewable heating controls for both commercial and domestic use and received £15,000 from the Small Business Loan Fund in 2013 to purchase stock and assist working capital.

Speaking at Coolsky the Minister said: “The Small Business Loan Fund has been a real success. It has provided much needed access to funds for more than 120 businesses, amounting to some £2.5million. This Newtownards business is testimony to the benefits of the Fund, which continues to attract strong interest and remains an important part of Invest NI’s Access to Finance portfolio.

“The Fund has also proven to be an effective way of helping people right across Northern Ireland to set up their own business, or to expand an existing business as Coolsky has demonstrated.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and it is only right that they are properly supported. I hope that many more businesses in the same position avail of this opportunity.”

The Small Business Loan Fund is managed by Ulster Community Investment plc (UCI) on behalf of Invest NI and is a subsidiary of social finance organisation Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT).

Harry McDaid, Chief Executive, UCI said: “UCIT has a proud history of providing lending support to a wide range of community, voluntary and social enterprise clients across Northern Ireland. As managers of the NI Small Business Loan Fund we are extremely keen to deliver support to a wide range of businesses across Northern Ireland. What attracted NISBLF to Coolsky was the quality and experience of the management team combined with their obvious passion to develop their business. Renewable energy is clearly a growth sector and Coolsky’s product/service offering positions it well to capitalise on this opportunity to expand.”

Copyright © 2017 NI Small Business Loan Fund | Legal

The NI Small Business Loan Fund LP ("NISBLF") is a limited partnership registered in Northern Ireland (No. NL75) which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority ("FCA") to enter into regulated credit agreements as lender (FCA FRN 723971). NISBLF is operated by Ulster Community Investment plc ("UCI"), being a company incorporated in Northern Ireland (NI030229) which is authorised and regulated by the FCA for entering into regulated credit agreements on behalf of a lender and credit broking (FCA FRN 589719). The registered address of both NISBLF and UCI is 13-19 Linenhall Street, Belfast, BT2 8AA.