Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Why we have to bank on private funding to kickstart our economy

Another day another venture capital deal, would be a great phrase to be repeating on these pages but sadly, there's not much call for it at present.

However, there are a few more deals like the one to the left appearing and with the enthusiasm of funds like Loughshore and forward thinkers like Danny Moore, then there's every reason to believe VC investments won't be as much of an exceptional occurrence.

It's not just venture capital investment that could be benefiting more Northern Ireland companies but financing from all areas of the funding spectrum could find a welcome home on these shores, from private equity to crowd funding.

Of course, part of the reason for the emergence of these alternative financing methods is, in many cases, a result of companies being unable to secure bank funding.

Bankers will tell you that far from being unwilling to lend, they can't find enough companies to apply for finance and are ready to consider your proposal.

Firms will tell you the banks pull down the shutters to all but the most solid lending case.

Whatever the truth, there will be a pique in interest from both parties next week when the Economic Advisory Committee, chaired by former Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member Kate Barker, presents its Access to Finance report to the Enterprise Minister. Whatever it's found – most likely that the economy here is being hindered by a lack of available finance – the most interesting part will be how it intends to get lending flowing to companies again.

Most likely it'll include exploring new options and venture capital is bound to be one of them.

Other than that we could of course take the lead of Mike Benson, the business owner who wrote a letter of complaint to the Bank of England governor Mervyn King after being refused a loan to buy a Transit van for his business.

He, to his astonishment, got a letter of reply from Mervyn King himself who not only sympathised with him but suggested he look to some of the new lenders.

Failing writing some begging letters, we'll just have to wait to see the Economic Advisory Group report next week.

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