The UK Government-owned British Business Bank has invested £10.5 million in a fund aimed at growing Northern Ireland small businesses.
Growth Finance Fund
This is the first time the Bank has invested in a fund aimed exclusively at supporting growing businesses in Northern Ireland, and it has been joined by Invest Northern Ireland and private investor Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC), who are investing £7.5m and £12m respectively to the new Growth Finance Fund.
This £30m fund aims to provide loans from £500,000 up to £2m to growing businesses in Northern Ireland over the next four years. It will be managed by Belfast-based WhiteRock Capital Partners, who are well-experienced in handling this kind of fund. The new fund is a successor to the Growth Loan Fund, set up in 2012, which committed £55m to more than 100 businesses, and will run alongside Growth Loan Fund II, another £30m fund supplied by Invest Northern Ireland and providing loans ranging from £100k-£500k for growing businesses with an export focus.
To qualify for a loan from the Growth Finance Fund, companies must be based in Northern Ireland and demonstrate existing growth.
SMEs still seek alternative finance
Patrick Magee, CCO at the British Business Bank said they are delighted to be investing in a loan fund dedicated to Northern Ireland’s smaller businesses.
“This £30m Growth Finance Fund will boost the supply of finance and further diversify the small business finance market, creating more choices for businesses and helping to meet our objective of reducing regional imbalances across the UK.”
WhiteRock Capital Partners have worked with more than 100 SMEs in the past six years through the Growth Loan Fund and chief executive Paul Millar says there is still a strong appetite for alternative finance options in the market.
At present, the British Business Bank is facilitating over £32.7m of finance across nearly 1,000 Northern Irish smaller businesses through its national programmes and has provided £6.1m of funding through its Start Up Loans programme since September 2012.
Small business minister, Kelly Tolhurst, said that ensuring growing businesses can access the finance they need for success is an essential part of the Industrial Strategy, and welcomed the BBB’s investment as a way for SMEs to reach their full potential.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, with 1,000 new businesses starting up every day and through our modern Industrial Strategy we are building a country in which small businesses will continue to thrive,” she concluded.
While the application process for the Growth Finance fund has not yet started, you can find out more about available loans on Invest Northern Ireland’s funding and equity page.