A MILESTONE has been reached by Whiterock Finance after it hit its target of getting £20 million in loans to small businesses across Northern Ireland in the last two years.
Its Growth Loan Fund II and the Growth Finance Fund, which have a combined £60 million to distribute, have supported 28 businesses over that time, helping them to create more than 700 jobs.
And while the average loan has come in at £540,000, it has also enabled recipient businesses to raise a further £30m from banks and other lenders.
SMEs who have received funding come from a range of sectors including manufacturing, telecoms, industrial services, leisure, and tourism.
Growth Loan Fund II provides loans from £100,000 to £1.5m, while up to £2m can be sought through the other fund, which are backed by the Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC), the British Business Bank and Invest NI.
Paul Millar, chief executive of Whiterock Finance, which administers the funds, said: “Reaching this milestone is an important marker during this current pandemic. It is essential we continue to support growth where there is potential for it.
“On the back of our first fund, which provided £55m to over 100 companies, we're delighted with the progress to date of our successor funds.
“We have also seen strong demand from companies keen to take advantage of the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and expect that interest to continue into the new year while the scheme is still open.”
William McCulla, director of corporate finance at Invest NI said: “This is a significant milestone for both of the loan funds to reach, especially in such uncertain times, and it's great to see the positive impact the funds have had on local businesses.
“We look forward to continuing our support for export-focused SMEs through these funds, helping them to grow in global markets, encouraging entrepreneurship and driving private sector growth that will help rebuild our economy.”
Sarah Newbould, senior investment manager at the British Business Bank said: “We invested specifically in the Growth Finance Fund to further support Northern Ireland’s smaller businesses. Supporting growth ambitions is so important to helping smaller businesses explore new opportunities and realise their potential.”