A SOCIAL enterprise which has an office in the Tees Valley has celebrated 15 years of lending as it reaches its £70m milestone.

The Business Enterprise Fund (BEF), which has a regional office in Billingham near Stockton, provides funding to start-up businesses across the North-East and country.

Marking its 15th year providing finance, the BEF said it had completed 268 deals and helped to start more than 200 UK firms in the current financial year.

Steve Waud, chief executive of the BEF, said: "We’re incredibly proud to have reached £70m of lending in our 15th year – we have also just celebrated a record month of lending for this year.

"Our team of investment managers, which has grown significantly this year due to demand, is extremely passionate about supporting their clients in everything from business planning through to execution.”

Mark Iley, investment manager at the BEF, said: "The social impact BEF is committed is inspiring and our ethos of loaning to others who are supporting their local communities, whether it’s through job creation, offering facilities or improving the surroundings, is especially rewarding.

"We’re all excited to see what the future brings."