Recovery signalled by Invest NI's Braveheart Group profits
The group charged with administering Invest NI's £50m Growth Loan Fund has swung into profit over the last year.
Braveheart Investment Group made pre-tax profit of £68,000 in the year to the end of March 2013, a big improvement of the £1.7m loss it made last year.
It owns Whiterock Capital Partners, the company set up to administer the Growth Loan Fund which is aimed at providing so-called 'mezzanine' loans to small and medium-sized enterprises in Northern Ireland over a five-year period.
Whiterock has awarded a number of loans throughout Northern Ireland over the last year, including £200,000 to Lisburn clothing company Reach EPS, £500,000 to Portadown company Domestic Sheepskins and £500,000 to a Londonderry company Maydown Precision Engineering.
The fund's stable of firms also includes Strathtay Ventures, Envestors and Viking Fund Management.
Chief executive Geoffrey CB Thomson said: "The year saw a good strong increase in turnover and a modest profit.
"We are particularly pleased with the fund management side of the business and the prospects in our investment portfolio."
And chairman Jeremy Delmar-Morgan said there are signs of an improving economy.
"The strategy of building the investment management business continues but let us not forget the ongoing business of the group which is that of seeking out great new companies and nurturing them to success.
"We see signs of green shoots in the economy, and whilst these are small, they can only enhance the growth prospects for our company.
"Recent economic forecasts suggest gradual signs of recovery," he said.