Posted on Wednesday 7 November 2012 by Ulster Business

Enterprise Week

Owen Brennan, Chairman of Devenish Nutrition; Sean Sheehan, Bank of Ireland and William Thompson, Agri Manager with Bank of Ireland

Bank of Ireland UK has launched Enterprise Week in Northern Ireland with the announcement that it has committed over half of the £50m Agri Fund it launched just over 12 months ago.

The week long Enterprise Week initiative will take place from Friday 16th November – Friday 23rd November 2012 and will focus on the agri-business sector.

Since launching the Agri Investment Fund in Northern Ireland in 2011, the bank has approved more than £25m in funding to help customers expand their agri businesses through the purchase of farmland and livestock and providing customers with working capital.

'Feeding Growth – Backing NI Agri Business' will be the theme of the programme of seminars and showcasing opportunities for business owners. Show Your Business events, which have proved particularly popular in past Enterprise Weeks, will be run across the bank's branch network, enabling local businesses to put their products or services on show.

A flagship seminar on developing Northern Ireland's agri-related business, with a particular focus on the Agri-Food sector, will be held at Ravenhill, the home of Ulster Rugby. The bank's University Road branch in Belfast will host two seminars for business start-ups on Thursday 22nd November on developing business plans, software for managing finances, VAT and Corporation Tax.

The bank will also host an event at CAFRE, the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise on Friday 23rd November with local MEP Jim Nicholson as main speaker, while on Wednesday 21st November the bank, in partnership with Omagh District Council, will host 'Financing Business in Growth' looking at global markets, imports and exports.

Sean Sheehan, Bank of Ireland UK's Regional Manager for Northern Ireland, said: "We have a packed programme for our sixth Enterprise Week. This time we have a particular emphasis on the agriculture sector which, through the downturn, has maintained and even increased its contribution to the local economy despite the difficulties it faces. We believe the sector has strong potential and we are determined to provide the support it needs to grow.

"Speakers at our Ravenhill seminar will include Michael Bell, Executive Director of Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association who will look at growth opportunities within the agri-food sector. Owen Brennan, Chairman of Devenish Nutrition, will offer his strategic view of the agri-sector and give the audience a brief overview of the company's success, looking at challenges it has faced and overcome and his plans for the future of the business."

Sean added: "Enterprise Week is just one of the initiatives we are taking to support local business through challenging times. Earlier this year at Stormont we launched an export initiative under which a dedicated team of finance experts is helping local exporting companies manage the unique financial challenges of selling overseas.

"Since January 2012, Bank of Ireland UK has approved nearly 90% of credit applications. Our Essentials for Business package for new and existing small businesses has attracted more than 6,000 new accounts since 2008 and in the last year some 60% of those related to completely new start-ups, indicating the continuing spirit of enterprise that exists in Northern Ireland."

Belfast-based Devenish Nutrition manufactures nutritional solutions for livestock producers and as well as serving the local market, it supplies more than 45 countries worldwide. Owen Brennan, Chairman, said at the launch of Enterprise Week: "I welcome Bank of Ireland UK's commitment to providing practical help as well as finance to support the development of local companies. Bank of Ireland UK has played a crucial role in our own success by understanding our business and our needs, particularly in relation to exports. We have developed a strong and productive partnership in recent years which continues to help us grow in the global market."

Enterprise Week is open to both customers and non-customers and is part of the bank's commitment to actively support private sector growth in Northern Ireland.

For the most up to date information on events taking place across Northern Ireland during Enterprise Week log on to www.bankofireland.co.uk/enterprise or contact your local Bank of Ireland UK branch.

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