SMALL BUSINESS LOAN FUND PASSES £6M MARK
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:
T: 028 9033 9949
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.