Posted on Tuesday 6 January 2015 by Ulster Business

Small business loan fund hits halfway mark

Finance Director of UCIT Barry Connolly; William McCulla, Director of Corporate Finance, Invest NI; Gordon Gough, Chief Executive of Enterprise NI and Nuala Campbell, Managing Director, Titanic Creative Management.

A fund set up to provide finance for small companies in Northern Ireland has lent half its targettwo years after setting up.

The £5m Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund has distributed £2.5m to businesses across Northern Ireland under the management of Ulster Community Investment plc (UCI), a subsidiary of the Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT) and Enterprise Northern Ireland.

Funded by Invest NI, it 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.

“Since setting up the fund in 2013 we have approved 120 loans totalling £2.5m,” Finance Director of UCIT, Barry Connolly said. “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.”

Gordon Gough, Chief Executive of Enterprise NI, said the money is addressing a funding gap.

 “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. 

 “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,” Managing Director, Nuala Campbell, said “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 fund offers loans from £1,000 – £50,000 with the average loan currently standing at £21,400. There is a maximum loan amount of £15,000 to start-up enterprises, with potential for follow-on lending up to a maximum of £50,000. Existing businesses can apply for amounts up to £50,000. In addition, there is mentoring support for borrowers under £15,000.

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