Business confidence remains critical to driving the economy forward and companies in Northern Ireland have a part to play in shouting about their successes. That was the message from Kevin Kingston, deputy chief executive of Danske Bank, speaking at Insider’s Business of Finance Conference in Belfast.
The theme of the conference was ‘Sources of finance for family-owned businesses and SMEs in Northern Ireland’. More than 120 delegates heard from Kingston about Danske’s record in supporting NI businesses and his views on how investment into growing businesses should come from a mix of sources.
Confidence is the key, said Kingston: “We believe we have a vital role to play in helping local businesses achieve sustainable economic growth in Northern Ireland and providing some of the business confidence that is so critical to driving the economy forward.”
Twelve months on from the launch of the £50m Growth Loan Fund, Paul Millar, of WhiteRock Capital, which manages the fund on behalf of Invest NI, provided a progress report.
With 200 loan enquiries, and an average of one new loan approval per week, it is well on track to reach its target of 50 deals per full year. Millar said: “The Growth Loan Fund is fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship across Northern Ireland.”
The conference heard from five NI businesses – of differing sizes and levels of turnover – but all growing. They explained their growths stories, the lessons they’ve learned and the sources of investment that is supporting them.
When one of companies, Automated Intelligence (AI) received seed equity investment from a local angel investor to fund product development and commercialisation.
Fergus McIlduff, AI’s chief operations officer, explained what this meant: “In taking this funding on we were able to accelerate our development timescales, as well as to actively market the benefits of our products.”
The conference also heard from a number of private equity and venture capital firms on their activity in Northern Ireland, explaining why they are investing in Northern Ireland businesses and why the region is a good place for them to invest.
Pete Smyth, chief executive of Broadlake Capital, which last year invested in sun-tanning product developer and supplier Vita Liberata, spoke of the need to support what he called “fearless entrepreneurs” in Northern Ireland who can become global leaders in their sectors.
“We all need to have the confidence to believe in their abilities,” he said.
Please contact BRS for a free consultation if you are presently sourcing finance for family owned businesses and SME’s in Northern Ireland.