Case studies

 Black Paw 2.jpg

Company: Black Paw Brewery
Fund: Microloan Fund
Manager: Rivers Capital
Investment: £25,000

A microbrewery based in Bishop Auckland, has secured a £25,000 cash injection from the Finance for Business North East Microloan Fund, a regional loan scheme that gives small companies with solid business plans the boost they need to grow.

Black Paw Brewery manufactures and distributes real ale, also known as craft beer. The brewery is tapping into an increasingly trendy and growing market with people more and more turning to small, local brands for unique tasting craft beers.

The brewery sells their casks of speciality ale both locally and nationally, whilst also producing bottles and mini casks to be sold directly to local businesses and at Farmers and Christmas markets. 

The Director, Phil Whitfield, set-up Black Paw in July 2011, converting an empty industrial unit in Bishop Auckland into a brewery. Whilst working for the NHS for the past twenty years, Phil had always pursued his interest in real ale, brewing at home whenever he got the chance and aspiring to one day create his own brand.

The company has been successful from the off, which Phil credits to the capacity of his brewery in comparison to his competitors. Black Paw can produce 1600 litres of beer in a single brew, giving Phil the freedom to produce six year round beers along with numerous seasonal products.

Phil was encouraged by his business mentor to apply to the Microloan Fund to increase his amount of working capital. The cash investment will enable him to grow the business substantially in numerous directions. Phil intends to set up an E-Commerce site for his business so that he can send his products by post and he would also like to begin to export Black Paw's real ale. Overall, he envisages that the loan will allow him to triple his turnover within three years and possibly purchase new premises.

Commenting on the process of obtaining the funding, Phil praised the team at Rivers Capital Partners and how easy it was, saying that "The staff are really helpful and friendly and the process is very open and honest." He also sees the Microloan as a good alternative to mainstream lenders. 

Nikita Bazko, Fund Manager at Rivers Capital Partners, said: "It has been a pleasure working with Phil, who shows a real passion for what he does.

"Turning a hobby into a business is something a lot of people dream of doing, and we're happy that the Microloan Fund was there to help him take Black Paw beer to the next step".



Company: Composite & Aerospace Solutions
Fund: Microloan Fund
Manager: Rivers Capital

South-Tyneside-based recruitment agency CAS (Composite & Aerospace Solutions) has secured a five figure sum through the Finance for Business North East Microloan Fund. This is a regional loan scheme managed by Rivers Capital Partners that enables small businesses to fund their big ideas.

CAS specialises in providing highly skilled members of staff and project teams to the composite and aerospace industry. It is the case that in these industries skills are often mismatched with jobs which is highly inefficient and exactly what Stephen and his colleagues want to combat.

Stephen Wilkinson, Managing Director, wants to build a more positive and reliable recruitment environment. After his long service for companies such as Etihad, British Airways, Emirates & Lufthansa, Stephen felt it was the right time to pursue his vision.

Stephen and his fellow directors believe they will enable the company to succeed in this niche sector. The business already holds the information of over 2000 temporary contractors and will be supplying customers, national aviation companies and Formula One car manufacturers to name a few, with the project teams they require.

CAS understands the importance of supplying firms with the right qualifications, technical ability and experience. It recognises how costly and time-intensive this process can be for the industry, which is already burdened with tight deadlines and massive overheads.

The Microloan allows CAS to create new jobs within South Tyneside, which will help the company expand allowing it to put more people into work. Expansion is significant for CAS Recruitment at this stage in order to build up their database. The loan has helped CAS towards its goal of becoming a market leader by helping it to get the extra staff needed.

Stephen's ultimate ambition is to own a brand renowned for its rapid deployment of permanent staff and to be the preferred supplier of choice.

Commenting on the Microloan process, Stephen stated that "I have found other processes to be lengthy and "ticky box", however the service I received from Rivers Capital was worlds apart. [It was] a clearly defined process from the outset and the communication has been excellent."

John White, Chairman at Rivers Capital Partners has said, "It is impressive to see what Stephen has built, and rewarding to know that we have helped CAS Recruitment in its next stage of development."


Dearden PR Photo.jpg

Company: Dearden
Fund: Microloan Fund
Manager: Rivers Capital
Investment: £25,000

A Middlesbrough design company, Dearden, has secured a £25,000 loan from the Finance for Business North East Microloan Fund, a regional loan scheme managed by Rivers Capital Partners that provides small businesses with micro loans to fund their big ideas.

Dearden designs and manufactures innovative furniture and lighting for a high-end international market. The company is well known in the manufacturing world for designing and prototyping an expanding table, which was featured on the Gadget Man Christmas show in December 2014.

Dearden has also designed and manufactured a unique chandelier. Resembling chrome exhaust pipes, the chandelier provides multi-directional lighting from a single source. Appealing to the luxury market, the company also produces bespoke office chairs inspired by the leather-upholstered, ergonomic driving seats found in classic sports supercars.

Nick Dearden, Director, started the company with the intention of creating perfectly engineered products that are visually striking as well as functional. He was inspired to create the expanding table after discovering Robert Duke, a furniture upholsterer who, in 1885, tried to create a similar product but could not quite get the design right.

The cash investment from the Microloan Fund will enable Nick to take a large number of his furniture pieces to design shows. By October 2015, the company will have produced twenty tables and chandeliers to exhibit at the 100% Design show in London. From there on, the business hopes to enter the UK interior design retail market.  

Commenting on the process of receiving a loan, Nick stated that it was "very professional, the administration was thorough and the staff were friendly."

Nikita Bazko, Fund Manager at Rivers Capital Partners, said: "Nick is a great example for North East businesses. In a matter of years, Nick envisages his business as an internationally recognised brand name. He would like to be producing products that have a legacy and will come to be regarded as family heirlooms.

"The funding will enable Nick to employ an apprentice and assistant designer, freeing up his time to focus on a strategy for growth."


Company: Manissa Limited
Fund: Growth Fund
Manager:  NEL Fund managers
Investment: £106,200 from the Growth Fund as part of a £300,000 funding round

Manissa is a leading manufacturer and distributor of radiator parts based in Newton Aycliffe. The capital raised has been essential for the company's growth plans and provided much needed extra factory space.

The finance has supported the recruitment of new staff, including a finance director with international experience, and additional expansion capital in conjunction with a new invoice financing line.

It is anticipated five new jobs will be created and turnover is expected to grow to £6m in the next three years. Without the funding, the business would proceed on a smaller scale and would need to consider downsizing the operation.



Company: Beyond Digital Solutions
Fund: Accelerator Fund
Manager: Northstar Ventures
Investment: £250,000 with investment from the Accelerator Fund, Middleton Enterprises and an angel investor

Beyond Digital Solutions is a North East based digital signage company. It supplies signs to clients such as Butlins, Volvo, Esquires Coffee Houses and the NHS. Its products are based around centrally-managed digital displays providing targeted information, entertainment and advertising. Digital signs can range from messages on devices such as mobile phones and iPads, to TV monitors and outdoor digital billboards.

The company has already created five new jobs this year and is using the finance to invest in new facilities and create new employment at a time when the digital signage market is growing rapidly. The new technology includes a demonstration unit that will allow BDS to demonstrate how digital signage could work for their business.

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