– 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 Fund. The 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.”
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.