The Greater Manchester Loan Fund celebrates its 1 year anniversary

The £20 million Greater Manchester Loan Fund (GMLF), managed by Maven, is celebrating its first anniversary. Launched in August 2013 by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, the Fund has been providing flexible funding solutions for the past year to promising businesses that need help to raise finance as a result of tighter lending criteria in the traditional finance market. The Fund will be open to new investments until 2018.

Maven, who manages similar funds for the UK and Scottish Governments, has since committed around £4 million into seven new investments on behalf of the Fund in businesses across a range of sectors and at various stages of development. Established to not only encourage growth amongst small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), but to also help create and safeguard jobs in the Greater Manchester area, the GMLF has surpassed 250 job outputs and is well on its way to achieving its target of 800 jobs safeguarded or created over the life of the Fund.

The Fund has very few sector restrictions and has generally supported companies which needed additional working capital or growth capital. The first business to benefit from finance from the GMLF was Ethernet Connectivity and Cloud Services business Vaioni. The £500,000 investment has been put towards helping support Vaioni’s growth strategy, whilst allowing it to double its workforce.

The GMLF, which can provide loans ranging from £100,000 to £750,000, most recently backed the automotive website Motoring.co.uk, with the funding enabling the business to both augment its existing website and complete the development of a new online platform.
The Fund also has the flexibility to work in partnership with traditional banks, asset-backed lenders, equity providers and other funders. The joint £500,000 investment in outsource contact provider Intelling Limited, alongside the North West Fund for Loans Plus, is allowing the business to recruit and train additional telemarketing staff with the aim of expanding its workforce to over 200 operators.

Andy Thomas, Investment Director at Maven, said: “We’ve been hugely encouraged by the interest in the new fund since its launch last year. We’ve seen a wide cross-section of businesses in terms of sector and funding requirement, with applications from relatively mature businesses recovering after the recession, to younger companies operating in expanding markets, but there's been a consistent theme of strong, passionate management teams that need funding to help them deliver their plans. The non-bank funding market is complex, so our challenge for the second year is to continue to spread awareness of the GMLF to ensure that businesses know the fund is available to support their growth”

“We work closely with businesses, sharing our industrial, commercial and financial expertise. This collaborative approach has helped them tackle common growing pains, and utilise our extensive network to help them connect to the right advisors for their situation. However, we also understand that not every management team requires the same level of support so getting the ‘fit’ right is something we dedicate a lot of time to.”

Last year the Fund backed Bolton based SME energy broker Love Energy Savings.com. The GMLF investment allowed the company to promote its innovative new online price comparison engine for business energy.

Phil Foster, Managing Director at Love Energy Savings.com, added “Choosing the right funder can be difficult. However, since the outset Maven have spent the time to get to know my business, the market and the opportunities which has really helped their contribution to date which has been nothing put positive. Now as part as business as usual, Maven will support and provide invaluable advice when asked, to help steer and guide without interference which to me is a breath of fresh air.”

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