Start-up loans funding passes £11m in Northern Ireland

Will Smith from Comber, whose business Woodwork by Will has taken out loans of £6,000 from the British Business Bank

THE British Business Bank's Start Up Loans programme has now divvied up £11 million in Northern Ireland, its latest figures show.

It has signed off on 1,356 loans, with the average amount for entrepreneurs seeking support sitting at £8,148.

The numbers are contained in a report showing that the bank has passed a major milestone of £600 million worth of loans delivered outside of London, providing 68,559 loans to entrepreneurs outside of the capital since its launch in 2012.

The most popular age group in Northern Ireland to apply for a Start Up Loan was in the 31-39 year-old bracket, with 680 loans made worth £6m.

A total of 359 loans were made to 25–30-year-olds worth £2.5m while 189 loans worth £1.3m were made to 18-24 year-olds.

And more than a third (36 per cent) of all loans were made to women in Northern Ireland, with lending totalling £3.8m.

Start Up Loans provides mentoring, support and funding to aspiring business owners in every corner of the UK and its impact has been particularly noticeable among individuals who might find it difficult to secure finance from traditional lenders.

The recipient of the 600 millionth pound from the programme was Will Smith from Comber, who took out a loan of £3,500 which he used to invest in essential machinery and a second loan for £2,500 which he used to purchase a table saw.

Will, who set up his business Woodwork by Will in January 2020 to follow an ambition of making his bespoke creations available for others to buy, said: “I found the whole process straightforward and would have no hesitation in recommending these loans to other entrepreneurs.

“I would go as far as saying that if you are serious about growth, this type of investment early on is essential, provided you are determined to put the work in.

“I hadn't come from a business background, so whilst the low interest loans were brilliant, having access to the pre-and-post loan advice and guidance was crucial for me, and is ultimately what attracted me to Start Up Loans as a lender.”

Richard Bearman, managing director of Start Up Loans, said: “We have always been committed to providing support and funding to smaller businesses that hail from each corner of the country, particularly in areas of deprivation where people may struggle to access funding, and this milestone is tribute to that.

“We are proud that our loans, mentoring and support for aspiring and existing entrepreneurs is helping to support the Build Back Better agenda and we're delighted to have been able to help Will make his dream into a reality.”

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