The North East longest-standing business investor has ended the year by making its 100th investment from one of the two elements of the £120m North East Fund that it manages.

NEL Fund Managers is responsible for investing the £9m North East Small Loan Fund Supported By The European Regional Development Fund, which offers loans of between £10,000 and £100,000, and is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new jobs in more than 320 SMEs.

NEL began making Small Loan Fund investments in businesses across Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland in spring 2018 and reached its century after investing £15,000 in Gateshead-based web design and digital marketing agency Advertise1’s growth plans.

During the same period, a further 124 North East firms that enquired about but did not take an investment from the Small Loan Fund have also received 12 hours of targeted business support through NEL to help them realise more of their growth potential, with 67 of these taking up this opportunity within the last nine months.

Earlier this year, NEL temporarily increased the maximum Small Loan Fund investment amount from £50,000 to £100,000 in response to the increased growth capital needs of many SMEs resulting from the pandemic, while in the summer, it also became an accredited provider for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

Investment applications and completions have been continuing right through 2020, with the NEL team working remotely with applicants and their advisors to complete investments in a wide range of sectors.

NEL is also responsible for investing the £18m North East Growth Capital Fund, which has been designed to create around 790 jobs in more than 70 regional firms over the life of the North East Fund programme and offers unsecured investments of up to £500,000 to established businesses looking to realise their growth potential.

Dr Yvonne Gale, chief executive at NEL Fund Managers, says: “The Small Loan Fund was designed to have a direct impact on the growth potential of North East SMEs and reaching this point, especially in the current climate, is a real landmark in its continuing progression.

“In addition to the number of investments we’ve made, it’s especially pleasing to have seen some of our SLF investees applying for a further investment from the Growth Capital Fund after achieving their initial growth objectives and setting themselves new goals.

“The business support work we’ve been able to undertake with dozens of firms right across the region will hopefully help each one of them formulate, revise and implement their own growth strategy, and will enable us to make an even wider impact on the development of the North East economy.

“We’re only at the halfway mark in the lifetime of the two funds that we currently manage, and our continuing mission is to help as many North East firms as we can implement sustainable growth models that enable them to create more and better jobs.”