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– £18 million social finance provided to Northern Ireland voluntary sector since 2016 –

Kilcreggan Homes, an independent charity that provides housing, day and employment opportunities for adults with a Learning Disability, Autistic Spectrum Condition or an acquired brain injury, is expanding its residential accommodation offering with £85k support from social finance providers, Community Finance Ireland.

The charity has received a total funding package of £240k from Community Finance Ireland in 2023. The package includes refinancing of existing accommodation loans, £85k towards the purchase of a property to support the rehabilitation of a client with complex needs and a £5k charitable donation to Kilcreggan Homes, towards developing its Mid Ulster Sanctuary site near Magherafelt.

Since 2016, Community Finance Ireland has supported 166 social enterprises and organisations from across the community and voluntary sector in Northern Ireland, with a total of £18.1 million in social finance loans.

Phelim Sharvin, Head of Community Finance Ireland, Northern Ireland said:

“The team at Kilcreggan Homes is hugely ambitious and has worked hard to widen the organisation’s portfolio in the past year. Across multiple sites including an urban farm and supported living properties in Carrickfergus, the charity helps 160 clients every week and achieves a clear social impact through the delivery of a high quality essential care service. Community Finance Ireland has provided £18million in social finance to Northern Ireland’s voluntary sector since 2016 and we’re proud that almost a third of that has gone to organisations like Kilcreggan Homes, which delivers Community Services and Health and Wellbeing services.”

Kilcreggan Homes Community Finance IReland
L-R, Phelim Sharvin, Head of Community Finance Ireland, Northern Ireland, Damien Cassidy, Managing Director of Kilcreggan Homes and service users Lynn and Grace pictured at Kilcreggan Homes Garden Centre.

Damien Cassidy, Managing Director of Kilcreggan Homes said:

“The financial support from Community Finance Ireland allowed us to restructure existing debt and in turn to plan for the purchase of a property in Newtownabbey and develop our Mid Ulster site. As well as our urban farm, our café, garden centre and pop up Christmas shop welcome 15,000 visitors annually and provide service users with training, day opportunities and employment.. We have a resource centre where they can socialise and the purchase of the residential properties close by means we can now also offer further independent living opportunities to complex needs service users. We very much appreciate the advice from Phelim and his highly experienced team throughout the process, along with their enthusiasm for our vision.”

Read more stories from Community Finance Ireland’s clients here.

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– Community Finance Ireland delivers £5.1 million of support in Antrim since 2016 –

A Carrickfergus-based sport and leisurewear company, founded by two friends during the pandemic, is the latest Co Antrim company to be supported by the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan FundThe Hybrid Academy was established by best friends Rob McFall, an aeronautical engineer and John Magill, a sales professional and received funding of £30,000 working capital to purchase stock and improve their supply chain.

The Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund is managed by Ulster Community Finance Ltd (UCF) on behalf of Invest Northern Ireland and delivered in partnership with Enterprise Northern Ireland. UCF is a subsidiary of the social enterprise Community Finance Ireland. Small businesses, sole traders and partnerships keen to develop their business can avail of loans up to £100,000, while start-up businesses can obtain initial loans of up to £15,000.

Rob McFall who lived in Italy prior to the pandemic explains how The Hybrid Academy has grown:

“The name existed for years before we founded the company as a nickname for the group of friends we regularly train with.  Like many small businesses, ours was founded in lockdown when we took a chance on making something we’d talked about for years, into a reality.  The team at NISBLF really helped us to understand what we needed to keep up with customer demand and make the business grow and of course support us with the finance to improve our supply chain.”

Community Finance Ireland NI Small Business Loan Fund Hybrid Academy Carrickfergus
L to R: Nigel McKernan (Invest NI’s Director of Corporate Finance), Robert McFall and John Magill (Founders and Owners of Hybrid Academy) and Dónal Traynor (Ulster Community Finance Ltd’s Chief Executive) at Hybrid Academy in Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim. Photo Credit: Brian Morrison Photography

Ulster Community Finance Ltd Chief Executive, Dónal Traynor said:

“This ambitious young company is performing well in the crowded fitness apparel market and they are ready to take their business to the next level, keeping up with the demand created by their impressive digital marketing and athlete influencer engagement programme. The fast and flexible finance that the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund offers, is perfectly suited to support the Hybrid Academy and we look forward to seeing how the business evolves.

Other sectors which have benefitted from the Fund to date include manufacturing and renewable energy. The Fund is open to organisations throughout Antrim who are interested in learning how financial support of up to £100,000 could further their business ambitions.”

Nigel McKernan, Invest NI’s Director of Corporate Finance, said:  

“The Small Business Loan Fund continues to assist businesses throughout Northern Ireland to fulfil their growth ambitions. The Hybrid Academy is another great example of an early-stage business which has used the fund to help it to grow. It is encouraging to see that Rob and John benefitted from not only financial support but the knowledge of experienced business advisors throughout the application process.”

The NI Small Business Loan Fund is part of Invest NI’s Access to Finance suite of loan and equity funds.

To find out more about the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund and how it could help with the next stage of your business’s plan, visit their website.