Her comments were made after a survey by the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Association revealed that their members were finding it easier to access finance. In a survey of 100 of its members, 65 were able to access finance in the past three years.
Judith Cochrane MLA said: “Small and medium sized enterprises are the lifeblood of the Northern Ireland economy. There is great enthusiasm and potential for growth in this sector. However, many have faced problems in accessing finance since the economic downturn.
“This survey shows that perhaps the tide is beginning to change for SMEs in how they are treated by banks. However, there is more that could be done to help support and grow these small businesses.
“I hope the new Assembly Group on SMEs will provide a platform for the relevant stakeholders to come together to generate practical ideas and proposals to solve the problems faced by those in this sector.”