Upstream, a Belfast-based Alternative Finance specialist is poised for significant growth as a result of the backing of a major US investor.
Upstream, which was established under Keys Commercial Finance eight years ago and provides Invoice and Trade Finance, expects its funding levels to triple within the next 12 months.
Upstream Co-founder / Managing Director, Judith Totten MBE said Upstream was delighted to be the first local funder to bring a Trade Finance solution to Northern Ireland.
“Trade finance has the potential to unlock major growth for SME’s struggling to keep up with demand and those at risk of losing crucial order pipelines due to the unnecessary delays and tick-boxing exercises associated with some traditional lending streams. Put simply it bridges a gap where organisations require additional funding quickly to deliver orders beyond their current capability.
“Available to businesses across almost every sector where this funding gap exists, our trade finance option is a perfect complementary product to our core invoice financing offer which effectively provides strong cash-flow for businesses based on the value of invoices they raise. A client can avail of one or both offerings under the one roof at Upstream.”
Judith Totten MBE said Upstream was looking forward with renewed confidence thanks to securing the long-term support of an ambitious US-based Debt and Equity Fund which specialises in financial services and funding receivables.
“The securing of this well-resourced and ambitious US funder is a game changer for Upstream and potentially for SMEs in Northern Ireland, the Republic and GB where we plan to grow our funding footprint over the next 12 months and beyond. In the last 16 weeks alone our Trade Finance loan book has doubled, with the support of our new partners.” Judith revealed.
She added the company expected to increase its staff complement by 25% over the next year and said it saw major potential for expansion south of the border.
“As a result of the uncertainty around Brexit, banks are continuing to take a conservative view on lending. Our mission is to get cash into the hands of FDs and MDs to enable them to do the deals that are right for their businesses and to benefit from whatever terms they can negotiate as a result of being able to pay quicker. Upstream is locally owned and managed. Therefore, we have a quick decision-making policy – with most decisions taking just 48hrs and cash being available a few days later.”
Upstream Sales Director, Alan Wardlow said: “At a time when other funders are battening down the hatches, we are committed to rapidly expanding our presence in the N.I. and R.O.I. and GB markets and can offer solutions to S.M.E. and Corporate clients right across the spectrum of industry sectors.
“We are providing customers with working capital products that the other banks and funders simply don’t offer. We can fund the entire supply chain from supplier to buyer via our Trade Finance / Supply Chain product. Furthermore, size of facility is no longer a constraint as we have funding simply not available to us previously with individual funding lines up to £2.5m and potentially well beyond in the case of acquisition funding.
“As a result of the support of our new partners Upstream is now interested in exploring all growth opportunities including acquisitions and funding receivables’ businesses throughout the UK and Ireland.”
Upstream works closely with ambitious companies to understand what they require now and horizon-scan for what they will need well into the future. With a strong emphasis on working collaboratively with existing lenders, Upstream prides itself on its ability to make quick locally-based decisions and find solutions that ensure businesses thrive and grow.