€10m sought by Minister for Jobs for small business

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, is hoping to secure a further €10m of exchequer funding to keep Microfinance Ireland afloat beyond 2017.

Microfinance Ireland is the State-backed project aimed at funding small businesses.

Ms Mitchell O’Connor also said the €11.7m lent by Microfinance Ireland has helped sustain 2,000 jobs.

In a written Dáil reply to Fianna Fáil’s Niall Collins, she described the output by Microfinance Ireland as “a very satisfactory performance in a difficult market at a very difficult time”.

Ms Mitchell O’Connor said that, since its inception in October 2012, Microfinance Ireland has approved 867 loans out of 1,826 loan applications received.

Some 591 applications were declined with 317 being withdrawn.

Microfinance Ireland was established by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation under the Action Plan for Jobs.

Ms Mitchell O’Connor said: “To secure the future development of Microfinance Ireland my officials are in negotiations regarding securing a tranche of €10m additional exchequer funding required to keep the fund operating as a going concern beyond 2017 in line with company law requirements.

“This equity injection is combined with additional bank funding of €15m.”

Last year, the State-backed, not-for-profit lender had a record 50% rise in the number of loan applications.

Approvals for start-ups, sole traders and small businesses reached an all-time high in 2015 with the lender approving €5.4m in funding to 357 businesses across every county in Ireland, supporting the creation and maintenance of 930 jobs in the process.

A total of 752 businesses applied for loans in 2015, compared with 508 for 2014, an increase of 48%. The average loan size approved during 2015 was €15,190.

Figures provided by Ms Mitchell O’Connor, show the highest number of loan approvals to the end of March this year totalled 196 with the number of loan approvals in Cork at 70, Limerick and Meath at 42, Galway at 38, Tipperary at 33, Wexford at 33, Cavan at 32, Kildare at 34, Mayo at 33, Wicklow at 30, Waterford at 28, and Kerry at 23.

The fund offers business loans of €2,000 to €25,000 to companies with fewer than 10 employees, and with a turnover of less than €2m.

According Microfinance Ireland data on the gender breakdown of those making loan applications, 76% were from males and 24% from females.


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