Businesses who accessed growth investment from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) through loan provider BCRS Business Loans are calling out to other businesses to apply for support from the new £400m fund.

With the second phase of the fund available to support economic growth and back the next generation of entrepreneurs, businesses who received support to realise their plans from the first MEIF have recommended others take advantage of the new opportunity by engaging with BCRS Business Loans.

The team at the Wolverhampton-based community development finance institution (CDFI) have supported 250 small businesses since 2017 through the MEIF, which was set up by British Business Bank to generate growth and employment opportunities in the Midlands. In total, BCRS lent over £17m which contributed to the creation of 2860 jobs in total by MEIF across the West Midlands during the first phase.

The £400m Midlands Engine Investment Fund II, announced recently, covers the entire Midlands region and provides debt finance from £25,000 to £2m and equity investment up to £5m to help a range of small and medium sized businesses to start up, scale up or stay ahead.

BCRS Business Loans will deliver smaller loans from £25,000 to £100,000, with partners offering debt finance from £100,000 to £2 million and equity investment up to £5m.

Among those to benefit from the first MEIF was family-owned commercial printing company Charisma Design & Print Ltd based in Tyseley, Birmingham, which received £60,000 to secure the future of the business following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ray Gilliland, Director at Charisma Design & Print, said: “Charisma Design & Print secured funding from BCRS and the first MEIF  which resulted in our recovery from the downturn in business due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We have been rebuilding our business as travel and hospitality move back to normal levels. Our products are used by hotel guests throughout some of the largest international groups, from menus to back of house admin collateral. As an established family company, we can now look forward thanks to the funding.

“We would encourage other businesses to contact BCRS now that the second fund has launched. BCRS worked with us throughout a thorough process and took the time to get to know our business. We appreciate the MEIF team supporting Charisma Design & Print as it has put us in a better position to go out and win new business at the same time as seeing our traditional hotel client base return.”

PSU Designs Ltd based in Tipton secured £85,000 to support the company’s cash flow during the disruption during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company specialise in the design and manufacture of custom power supply units and battery charging systems and the funding stabilised the business and safeguarded jobs whilst production reduced.

Tim Yorke, Finance Manager at PSU Designs, commented: “BCRS were very supportive in providing us with competitive loans during the extremely challenging time we all encountered during Covid. Their loans allowed PSU Designs to retain many experienced staff, as well as to re-structure and grow our staff in key areas of the business.”

BCRS Business Loans Chief Executive Stephen Deakin said: “We are pleased to be able to build on our positive impact in delivering British Business Bank investment across the West Midlands by now engaging with businesses on the opportunities for support from MEIF II.

At BCRS we are clear that no viable business should go unsupported so we are working with partners across the region to identify businesses who can benefit, many of whom are not eligible for mainstream banking support.

“The West Midlands has a proud history of supporting the small businesses which are recognised as the engine of the local economy so MEIF II will ensure they thrive and grow, build jobs and skills opportunities and make a positive contribution to the region.”

Jody Tableporter, Director UK & Regional Funds at British Business Bank, said: “The success stories generated by BCRS Business Loans delivering small business loans through the first Midlands Engine Investment Fund provide a blueprint for how we can support entrepreneurs and founders, whoever they are and wherever they are in the region, to access the funds and support they need.

“The new fund will build on the progress made by companies like Charisma Design & Print and PSU Designs, allowing us to continue supporting business owners across the Midlands, whether they’re at the start of their journey or are already running an established firm.”

BCRS Business Loans offers loans to SMEs across the West Midlands and Wales who are unable to access finance from traditional sources by providing secure loans from between £10,000 and £150,000 to support growth and recovery plans.

BCRS is also a delivery partner for the first £130 million Investment Fund for Wales, which launched in November, and the latest £62m Community Investment Enterprise Fund (CIEF), which aims to invest in 800 small businesses nationally.

Since BCRS Business Loans was founded in 2002, it has provided loans worth more than £85 million to businesses. A social impact report for the last financial year showed BCRS lent £6.5m to 72 businesses, safeguarding 999 jobs and creating 473 roles, adding £33.7m in value to the economy of the West Midlands and surrounding regions.

The purpose of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund II is to drive sustainable economic growth by supporting innovation and creating local opportunity for new and growing businesses across the Midlands. The Midlands Engine Investment Fund II will increase the supply and diversity of early-stage finance for smaller businesses in the Midlands, providing funds to firms that might otherwise not receive investment and help to break down barriers in access to finance.