February 18, 2020 @ 14:17 by Richard Dawson
North East business investor NEL Fund Managers is celebrating its busiest ever quarter, during which it invested a record £2.5 million in ambitious local start-ups and small businesses.
In the last three months of 2019, the Newcastle-based fund management company made 27 investments in businesses from across Tyne and Wear, Durham, and Northumberland, using funds from two parts of the £120 million North East Fund, which NEL manages.
Enterprising small businesses that have benefited from the funding include North Shields based fashion label Fresh Couture, County Durham’s Oracle Training Solutions and South Tyneside catering firm Elsie’s Kitchen.
The firm manages the £18 million North East Growth Capital Fund, which has been designed to create around 790 jobs in 70 regional firms over the life of the programme, offering unsecured investments of up to £500,000 to businesses looking to scale up and realise their growth potential.
NEL Fund Managers also oversees the £9 million North East Small Loan Fund, which is aimed at smaller businesses and start-ups and offers loans between £10,000 and £50,000.
It’s hoped the scheme will support the creation of over 1200 new jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.
Enquiry levels have remained strong into the first quarter of 2020, and NEL Fund Managers has reported that they are still welcoming applications from small businesses looking for funding opportunities.
Dr Yvonne Gale, chief executive at NEL Fund Managers, commented: “The run-up to the end of any year provides a natural deadline towards which all parties involved in an investment can work, but
“Last year saw especially high activity levels and it’s a huge credit to our investment team that we got so many deals done in such a short period.
“While we’re active right across our investment area, we’ve been seeing particularly high levels of interest from Durham-based businesses, as well as from applicants in the education and health and fitness markets.
“The impact of the investments we provide is clear to see in the performance of the firms we’ve backed from our two funds, and what’s especially pleasing is seeing a growing number of Small Loan Fund investees coming back to talk to us about accessing the larger Growth Capital Fund to help them make the next step change in their operations.
“Our continuing mission is to keep helping North East firms implement sustainable growth models that enable them to create more and better jobs, and while we have a strong flow of investment proposals coming in that will allow us to do this, we’re very much open to hearing even more ideas from businesses that want to realise more of their potential.”
Jason Hobbs, chief executive at the North East Fund, said: “Our region offers excellent opportunities for scale-up companies and is home to many successful businesses, some of which are operating at the forefront of their industry, often on a world stage.
“The North East Fund is keen to support local enterprises with their sales growth, new product development and expansion ambitions, and NEL, as a key delivery partner, is integral to us doing that.
“They have invested in some very exciting businesses over the last 18 months on our behalf and we look forward to seeing how these SMEs develop and reach their potential with the aid of funding.”