Business

Bank ring-fences £250m to support SMEs in Northern Ireland

Mash Direct is among the businesses in Northern Ireland to have previously secured funding from HSBC UK
Mash Direct is among the businesses in Northern Ireland to have previously secured funding from HSBC UK Mash Direct is among the businesses in Northern Ireland to have previously secured funding from HSBC UK

HSBC has launched a £15 billion UK lending fund for small and medium sized businesses, with £250 million specifically ring-fenced to support employment opportunities and drive growth in Northern Ireland.

The fund is a key part of the lender’s commitment to help UK businesses to innovate, thrive and grow domestically and internationally.

It also includes specific funding for businesses trading internationally (£2 billion), in the agriculture sector (£1.2 billion), tech sector (£500m) and for franchise businesses (£500m).

It is also aligned with the Green SME Fund (£500m) for businesses of all sizes to transition and thrive in a low carbon economy and the new Growth Lending Fund (£250m) for high growth tech businesses to support well-equitised, high growth, loss-making scale ups early in their growth journey.

Since launching the SME Fund in 2014, HSBC - which has 24,000 staff and serves 14.75 million customers across the UK - has lent more than £90 billion.

Recipients have previously included Mash Direct, the Comber-based processed vegetable company.

Using a seven-figure funding package from HSBC UK, the sixth-generation family-owned business made a custom-built, on-farm production facility more environmentally friendly. It was also able to hire 12 new staff and increase training to upskill staff.

Small Business Minister Paul Scully said: “This new fund puts HSBC on course to have lent more than £100 billion to UK small businesses within a decade, which is a great milestone.

“The extra funding builds on the support available through government schemes like Help to Grow and Start Up Loans to help small businesses grow and reach their full potential.”

Small Business Commissioner Liz Barclay added: “The challenges facing small businesses are beyond imagination. The problems caused by poor payment practices such as late or delayed payments, and extended payment terms pile pressure on cash flow.

“Small firms are the lifeblood of the economy. They must be paid fast and fair, and if they are to have the confidence to invest and build the resilience, they’ll need to weather the storms ahead and they will need the support of funds like this more than ever.”

Peter McIntyre, head of business banking at HSBC UK, said: “SME are vital to the UK economy, and our customers have told us they are ready to invest for growth. This £15 billion fund will help businesses to expand internationally, as well as in the UK, supporting key sectors and driving investment across the regions.

“We want to make a significant contribution to economies across the country, driving employment, local wealth, and growth by providing funding, when and where it’s needed most. We know our customers are innovating and adapting at pace and British businesses need their bank to be flexible, supporting future growth opportunities.”