Helping SMEs Fund Future Growth

Feb 07, 2020
William McCulla Judith Hartley Richard Gillan Shane OHanlon 2

An event examining the funding landscape for local small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) took place in Belfast this week.

The ‘Access to Finance’ event, organised by Chartered Accountants Ulster Society in partnership with Invest Northern Ireland, InterTradeIreland and British Business Bank, brought Northern Ireland business leaders and advisers together to discuss the range of funding options available.

At the event at Titanic Hotel Belfast, Gareth Murphy of We Are Vertigo and Yolanda Cooper of We Are Paradoxx talked about their experience of raising finance which has supported them in transforming their companies in a short space of time.

As well as looking at the options presented by debt and equity funding, the event looked at the experience of taking a business to an Initial Public Offering (IPO) with Brendan Mooney of Kainos plc, James Fair of Fusion Antibodies plc, and Philip White of Diaceutics plc.  Hoping to inspire other ambitious CEOs to consider a stock market listing, Brendan said: “Becoming a plc is really not that difficult and represents a viable funding option for NI SMEs.”

Richard Gillan, Chairman of Chartered Accountants Ulster Society said: “It’s important that businesses and their advisers are not only familiar with the more traditional finance options on offer, but also with the alternative funding solutions available to growing businesses.

“Alternative sources of finance, offered across both debt and equity markets, are now more prevalent in the funding landscape and have a key role to play in allowing businesses to effectively execute their growth strategy. We’re very pleased to be able to play our role in examining these sources of finance, and how local businesses should approach them.”

Susan Nightingale, Senior Manager for Northern Ireland, British Business Bank said: “Smaller businesses are very important to the NI economy, accounting for 75% of jobs and 71% of turnover in the private sector. Improving awareness of funding options and being able to identify the most appropriate funding package at a particular point in time is an essential component of their growth.”

William McCulla, Director of Corporate Finance, Invest NI said: “While statistics show an increased awareness of alternative funding options such as mezzanine debt, peer to peer lending, venture capital, crowdfunding and stock market listings there is still some way to go. Events of this nature are essential if we are to continue to build on that momentum.”

Shane O’Hanlon, Funding for Growth Manager, InterTradeIreland said: “Supporting SMEs on their growth journey is central to what we do, we will continue to work collaboratively with Invest NI and British Business Bank to promote the market offerings and to increase the demand for SME growth finance.”

Pictured at the ‘Access to Finance - Alternative Finance Solutions’ event at Titanic Hotel Belfast are (from left) William McCulla, Invest NI; Judith Hartley, British Business Bank; Richard Gillan, Chairman, Chartered Accountants Ulster Society; and Shane O’Hanlon, InterTradeIreland.