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Loans body grants £3m to 145 firms since 2013

A business loan scheme aimed at boosting the finances of firms that cannot access funds through normal channels has already handed out more than £3m, it has been revealed.

The Invest NI-backed Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund was set up at the start of 2013, and in two years has awarded 145 loans to companies.

The £5m fund is managed by Ulster Community Investment (UCI), a subsidiary of social finance organisation the Ulster Community Investment Trust.

The latest figures were unveiled following an Assembly question from SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood to the Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell.

Mr Bell said: "The fund has helped support companies from a very wide range of sectors, including IT, food processing, construction, leisure and tourism as well as many others."

Some 38 loans were handed out across Belfast over the past two years, but the largest number of awards across 18 constituencies went to Mid-Ulster, with 14 made.

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