Business loan

NI Small Business Loan Fund makes £4.3m available to Co Antrim businesses

Shay Mullan, Director, Tom & Ollie, William McCulla, Corporate Finance Director of Invest NI, Fergal Green, Director, Tom & Ollie and Ulster Community Finance Ltd Managing Director Dónal Traynor.

Belfast-based artisan food production company Tom & Ollie is one of 191 businesses in County Antrim to receive support from the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund since 2013, bringing the total allocated to businesses in the county to over £4.3million.

Small businesses, sole traders and partnerships looking to grow their business can benefit from loans of up to £100,000, while start-up businesses can get initial loans of up to £15,000.

Tom & Ollie (Tomato and Olive) was established in 2014 by friends Seamus Mullan, Hugh Cushnan and Fergal McGrainne from Broughshane.

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William McCulla, Corporate Finance Director of Invest NI, Fergal Green, Director, Tom & Ollie, Shay Mullan, Director, Tom & Ollie and Ulster Community Finance Ltd Managing Director, Dónal Traynor

The business has its roots in local artisan and farmer’s markets across Northern Ireland, with a regular stall at the weekly St George’s Market in Belfast.

Tom & Ollie is a SALSA licensed artisan producer of pesto, tapenades, hummus and sun-dried tomatoes, specializing in cheese and charcuterie.

In 2017, the team undertook significant R&D and product development work, aiming to expand its wholesale and retail offering.

This has resulted in new ranges for the retail and foodservice sector and the company has acquired high profile customers including Aldi Ireland, Lidl, Sheridan Cheesemongers & Pallas Foods.

To support this continued growth and associated working capital requirements, Tom & Ollie in 2020 accessed £45,000 from the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund.

Managing Director of Ulster Community Finance Ltd, Dónal Traynor, said: “Tom & Ollie is a forward-thinking business that has made the most of the demand for high-quality, local handicrafts.

“The fast and flexible funding offered by the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund was a perfect fit for their growth ambitions and it has been impressive to see the expansion of their portfolio of top tier clients.

“In addition to food production, sectors that have benefited from the Fund to date include manufacturing and renewable energy.

“The fund is open to organizations in Co Antrim who want to know how financial support of up to £100,000 could further their business ambitions.”

Fergal Green of Tom & Ollie, continued: “The NISBLF team recognized our ambitions for the business and, coupled with our previous success and strong business plan, could see how access to working capital would support our growth.

“The funding has enabled us to achieve these ambitions. We now manufacture over 65 lines in Belfast. Recent business developments include a new online delivery service with over 300 fresh market produce available for next day delivery in Ireland.

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

“We have worked closely with Tom and Ollie since 2019, offering practical business advice and support to grow his team and grow his sales in the UK market,” explained William McCulla, Corporate Finance Director of Invest NI .

“The Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund has also contributed to the company’s success. The Fund’s financial support has helped him maximize available business opportunities and expand his product line as his client portfolio has grown. I am delighted to see the positive impact the Fund has had on the growth of Tom and Ollie’s business, and its continued support for SMEs in Co Antrim and Northern Ireland.

The fund is managed by Ulster Community Finance Ltd (UCF) on behalf of Invest NI and implemented in partnership with Enterprise NI.

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