Today (November 16), the British Business Bank launches a new £70million commitment to support smaller businesses from all sectors right across Northern Ireland.
The Investment Fund for Northern Ireland (IFNI) aims to drive sustainable economic growth by supporting innovation and creating local opportunities for new and scaling businesses who may have struggled to access finance elsewhere.
The fund will offer a range of commercial finance options with both loans and equity investments available for local entrepreneurs. By increasing the supply and diversity of early-stage finance for smaller businesses, the new fund aims to tackle an identified funding gap throughout Northern Ireland.
The Investment Fund for Northern Ireland is one of a series of Nations and Regions Investment Funds being launched by the Bank which will deliver a £1.6 billion commitment of new funding to smaller businesses across the UK.
Two locally based fund managers with extensive experience supporting smaller business in Northern Ireland will be appointed to manage the new investment fund.
Whiterock Capital Partners will manage the debt fund offering loans of £25,000 up to £2million while Clarendon Fund Managers will provide equity stakes in smaller businesses up to £5million.
Louis Taylor, Chief Executive of the British Business Bank said: "We know Northern Ireland is home to some excellent business owners who have innovative and brilliant ideas. But we also know that accessing finance for some of these people can be a struggle and that this part of the UK has experienced a funding gap. The launch of the Investment Fund for Northern Ireland will help address these issues and create opportunities for businesses to start up and scale up."
"We are looking forward to working with our fund managers who have excellent track records of supporting smaller businesses right across Northern Ireland. Getting outside Belfast and into more rural areas so there is a levelling up of finance opportunities is something which is very important to the British Business Bank."
"The Investment Fund for Northern Ireland can be a game changer for local smaller businesses who play such an important role for our economy through job creation and productivity."
Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland said: "Northern Ireland has a reputation for innovation, and its SMEs are at the forefront of this. I have no doubt that this new £70 million Investment Fund for Northern Ireland, from the UK Government’s British Business Bank, will provide important support for those starting or scaling up their business across the whole of Northern Ireland."
"As the recent NI Investment Summit showed, Northern Ireland is home to excellent entrepreneurs, and possesses expertise in sectors from tech to businesses at the forefront of our transition to a net zero future."
"This new investment can help them take the next step in their development and boost the wider local economy."
Following today's launch of the Investment Fund for Northern Ireland, the British Business Bank will be hosting a webinar on Tuesday 12 December 2023 from 11:00 - 12:00. This webinar is aimed at smaller businesses in Northern Ireland looking for finance as well as business advisors, accountants, bankers, lawyers and the wider small business support ecosystem.
It will help attendees to understand the different funding options available and will be an opportunity to ask our appointed fund managers any questions in the closing Q&A session.
A series of roadshow events will also be held in February 2024. These will provide an opportunity to meet the fund managers in person and to find out more about the fund and how to apply. The first of these will be held in Newry on February 6, 2024 with additional sessions held in Omagh, Derry Londonderry and Ballymena later that week. An online version of the session will also take place on December 12, 2023 at 11.00am.
One local business owner who has benefited from support from the British Business Bank is Zee Azab who set up his scuba diving school, Eagle Divers NI IN County Antrim after receiving a Start Up Loan. In addition to scuba diving and snorkelling courses Eagle Divers NI offers activities such as water biking, paddle boarding and kayaking.
Zee Azab said: "The support from the British Business bank really helped accelerate my plans for Eagle Divers NI. Northern Ireland has such a wealth of outstanding entrepreneurs but perhaps not everyone realises that help is available. Whether they are interested in debt or equity finance, the Investment Fund for Northern Ireland will be an excellent resource, helping business owners realise ambitions, just like I did."
To find out more and apply for funding, visit: investmentfundnorthernireland.co.uk.