Only 1.5% of EFG scheme funds SMEs in Northern Ireland

Only 1.5% of EFG scheme funds SMEs in Northern Ireland

Just 1.5% of the total money lent through the government's Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) scheme is reaching SMEs in Northern Ireland, according to Ortus Secured Finance.

The London-based commercial lender revealed that small businesses in Northern Ireland received £39.4m of the total £2.7bn lent through EFG, while SMEs in London and the South East received £754.5m from the scheme in the past year.

Ortus felt this represented a severe “funding gap” faced by small businesses in Northern Ireland and Jon Salisbury, Managing Director of Ortus, said the scheme had been ‘relatively unsuccessful’ in the region.

“One reason for this could be that lenders’ continued caution across the board is being amplified in areas still considered relatively “high risk”, such as Northern Ireland.”

“Another reason could be that businesses in Northern Ireland are simply not getting the information and help they need to access these types of schemes.

“Some may not even know EFG exists or is an option.”

Ortus also found that only 22.4 of every 10,000 businesses in Northern Ireland received loans through EFG last year, compared to 40.3 and 46.9 in London and the South East respectively.

Jon felt that since Ortus had started working with businesses in Northern Ireland it had found a market with a strong, professional network, quality clients and liquid markets.

“While Northern Ireland was hit particularly hard by the recession, it is now recovering. Its progress has been strong, presenting good opportunities for lenders.”

“There is, however, a major funding gap when it comes to SMEs in Northern Ireland and we are looking to fill this, wherever possible.”

“So far we have worked with some outstanding businesses in Northern Ireland and are thoroughly looking forward to helping many more over the coming year.”

In April, Ortus announced it would be trebling its lending in Northern Ireland by the end of 2017 after launching a new £40m fund.

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