Belfast Telegraph

£50 million loan fund for Northern Ireland SMEs

Scheme will help businesses demonstrating growth potential

BY CLARE WEIR

A loan scheme which aims to distribute £50m to Northern Ireland businesses over the next five years has already handed out £10m since being set up almost a year ago.

The Growth Loan Fund provides loans of between £50,000 and £500,000 to small and medium enterprises which can demonstrate sales and profitability growth or growth potential, with a focus on export and the manufacturing, engineering and tradable services sectors.

Finance for the fund has been provided by Invest Northern Ireland, which gave £25m, with additional backing provided by the private sector.

The first beneficiary of the fund was Brookvent, a ventilation systems manufacturer in Dunmurry, which received £425,000 last September to assist growth in overseas markets and research and development.

Other recipients have been Pure Roast Coffee of Lisburn, which supplied drinks to the G8 Summit in Fermanagh, Loft Sound, which hires audio equipment and crew for use at concerts and corporate events, which will use the money to invest in new high-tech equipment and Scaboodle, which specialises in event and tournament management software, which aims to use the money to take on five new members of staff, and help with its plans to export to North America.

The two largest loans have gone to MSO Cleland, an east Belfast-based designer and manufacturer of printed carton packaging and Domestic Sheepskins, a Co Armagh company providing treated skins and hides for use in fashion, accessories and upholstery, both of which received £500,000.

MSO Group has been creating packaging for the food, drink and pharmaceutical sectors since 1876 and currently employs almost 200 people.

The investment in MSO is Co-Fund NI's most significant investment in any one company to date.

Domestic Sheepskins, a family-owned leather business based in Portadown for a decade is to take on 16 new staff and move into markets in Italy, Turkey and China.

The firm exports over £2m of its products to China annually.

The fund was set up by Invest Northern Ireland and private investor, Northern Ireland Local Government Officer's Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC).

WhiteRock Capital Partners LLP was established to respond to enquiries to the fund by Scottish fund managers Braveheart Ventures Limited, English fund managers NEL and Belfast-based Clarendon Fund Managers.

Belfast Telegraph

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