MORE than £1.1 million has been invested in Gloucestershire’s small and medium-sized businesses as part of a county council-backed scheme to stimulate economic growth and employment.

The partnership with online marketplace Funding Circle was launched in March last year, giving the council the chance to join thousands of lenders across the country.

Eighteen Gloucestershire companies have benefited from the scheme - borrowing £1.1m between them to consolidate or expand their business.

Gloucestershire County Council has contributed a total of £45,000 to this sum - £2,500 to each business - in order to stimulate the local economy.

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, leader of GCC, said: “Giving small businesses the opportunity to grow is central to developing the local economy and it’s great that we’ve been able to play a role in encouraging others to do the same.

“I hope that even more companies can benefit from this innovative scheme and look forward to seeing how our lending is making a difference locally.”

David de Koning of Funding Circle said: “Over the last three-and-a-half years since we launched, Funding Circle investors have lent £25 million to small businesses in the South West.

"This partnership with Gloucestershire County Council enables us to help even more of the region’s businesses.”