The second Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund has approved support to business of over £1m in its first nine months, indicating even stronger demand than for its predecessor Fund.
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 new Fund provides loans up to £100,000 to small businesses, sole traders and partnerships keen to develop their business. Start-up companies can obtain initial loans up to £15,000.
Barry Connolly, UCIT’s Finance Director, said:
“Ulster Community Finance Ltd was delighted to be appointed manager of the new fund by Invest NI last year.
“This second Small Business Loan Fund is building upon the success of its predecessor. With loan support now increased to £100,000 per client, the new Fund has the potential to lend over £9million to local SMEs over its five-year term. In the first Fund we supported 400 small businesses and our ambition is to exceed this number in the second Fund.
“We support small businesses right across Northern Ireland and embrace just about every sector. Funding is available for capital investment, growth related working capital needs, new product and market development; whatever can assist a business to grow and achieve its potential, we are there to help.”
One of the firms to benefit from the Fund is Clogher Valley Precision located near Omagh. The firm engineers parts used in the manufacture of forklifts, container lifting machines, quarry equipment, agricultural equipment and the marine industry.
The company used a £50,000 loan to purchase a new automated machining tool to produce complex components and reduce manufacturing times.
David Gill, Director at Clogher Valley Precision, said:
“For over 15 years we have produced parts for various companies across Ireland such as Combilift in Monaghan.
“The loan has enabled us to purchase new machinery to help increase production capacity and efficiency. It complements our existing automated machines and allows our workforce to utilise the most up-to-date technologies.
“15 years ago UCIT provided a loan to help create our local community centre and that has been a key lifeline for many in the area. Support for SMEs is equally important and this loan will help ensure our business is equipped for future growth.”
William McCulla, Invest Northern Ireland’s Director of Corporate Finance, said:
“The new Small Business Loan Fund has got off to a great start.
“Applications from companies like Clogher Valley Precision, which is using the loan to increase production, demonstrates the continued strong demand from small businesses for finance to help them grow.
“The Fund continues to be a key aspect of our Access to Finance portfolio, supporting businesses, creating jobs and helping to grow the Northern Ireland economy.”
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