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Friday, 28 November 2014

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£1m loaned to Cumbrian firms abandoned by banks

A finance scheme set up to pump cash into Cumbrian businesses abandoned by the banks has helped 34 firms since its launch in 2009.

Enterprise Answers has lent a total of nearly £1 million to companies who have been unable to access finance from traditional lenders, its chief executive has revealed.

Businesses to benefit include Carlisle’s Merienda coffee bar, Whitehaven chauffeured car service It’s a Classic and Penrith pickle producer Mr Vikki’s.

Enterprise Answers grew out of the old Cumbria Asset Reinvestment Trust (CART).

In 2009, it was given accreditation to the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) scheme, meaning the loans it makes are underwritten by the Government.

Chief executive Grahame Latus said: “We see a number of businesses which we think are good quality and perfectly viable but we are unable to invest as they can’t provide adequate security. EFG accreditation means that we are able to consider what are perceived to be higher risk propositions.

“Of course this doesn’t mean that we will just lend to anyone, but we are able lend to viable businesses where the only thing that was stopping us previously was the lack of security.”

Merienda received a loan to help owner John Graham establish the business in Carlisle while his original premises in Cockermouth was repaired following the 2009 floods.

Mr Graham has since gone on to be nominated twice in the Young Entrepreneur category of the CN Group Business Awards.

It’s a Classic turned to Enterprise Answers for a start-up loan after banks refused to back the idea.

The firm has since been named as a finalist in the Ways into Self Employment (WISE) awards.

Mr Vikki’s was given a cash injection to expand and this year moved into larger premises to underpin that growth.

Other companies to have received help include Capelli Studio hair salon, of Penrith, and Acorns Pre-School Nursery at Cleator Moor.

For more information, visit www.enterpriseanswers.co.uk

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