Local Enterprise Office Launches New Loan Partnership

The Local Enterprise Office Carlow is teaming up with Microfinance Ireland, to launch a new type of loan support aimed at the small business community in the region.

The ‘LEO Microfinance’ loan is being officially launched this week with small business loans on offer, of between €2,000 and €25,000, at a reduced rate of interest. Benefitting from advice and support during the application stage, start-ups and small businesses can now apply directly to the Local Enterprise Office Carlowfor the new ‘LEO Microfinance’ loan package.

Under a new Protocol between the LEOs around the country and Microfinance Ireland (MFI), it is expected that up to 250 new applications for the loan support will take place this year alone. Based on an average loan size of €15,500, the €3.8 million in lending is expected to support 500 jobs nationwide.

Importantly, loans are generally unsecured and can be used for working capital, as well as items like equipment, hiring new employees and marketing campaigns. Start-ups and small businesses across all industries and sectors, which employ fewer than 10 people, are being encouraged to apply if they are finding it difficult to access credit.

Welcoming the launch of the new loan support, Vincent Reynolds, Chairperson of the LEO Network said: “Through this partnership arrangement with Microfinance Ireland, our aim is to assist the small business community in gaining access to the credit they need now, to help their business develop and grow into the future. If microenterprises are the driving force behind the Irish economy, then access to credit is critical for our recovery and job growth. This new loan partnership is a welcome addition to the range of supports, now available through the entire Local Enterprise Office network.”

Kieran Comerford of the Local Enterprise Office Carlow said: “Getting access to credit can still be difficult, especially for people looking to get new ventures up and running. We are very well-placed to understand the needs of small businesses in our community, as the ‘First Stop Shop’ for anyone starting or growing a small business in the area. By partnering with Microfinance Ireland, Local Enterprise Offices can now offer a tailor-made loan product to our small business clients, at a reduced rate for the term of the loan, in addition to our other enterprise supports. ”

MFI, a not-for-profit lender, was established in October 2012 and received its first loan application the following month. It was set up to deliver the Government’s Microenterprise Loan Fund, announced in the Action Plan for Jobs.

Around half of MFI’s loan applications already come through the LEOs, and the newly-appointed Chief Executive Officer of MFI, Michael Johnson, is keen to encourage many more start-ups and small business owners to apply through the LEO network. He said: “Since Microfinance Ireland opened its doors less than two years ago, we’ve made significant progress with the help of the Local Enterprise Offices, approving loans to 308 small businesses, providing €4.8 million in lending, supporting 711 jobs to date.”

He added: “We are in a demand-led business, so for every loan application we receive, there could be ten or more potential loan applicants out there, still finding it difficult to get finance for their business. For those new start-ups and small business owners who meet the criteria, our advice is to talk to your Local Enterprise Office and apply for the new loan support. Supporting jobs is at the very heart of what we do and providing loan assistance to viable businesses through the Local Enterprises Offices will help unlock a company’s potential to create those jobs.”

Three microenterprises, which have successfully applied for MFI loans through the LEOs, showcased their products at this week’s launch. They included: PAP Healthcare Ltd (suppliers of sleep apnoea machines to the medical industry), Fastnet Catch Ltd (producers of breaded fish and shell fish, with gluten-free ingredients) and Veronica’s Snacks (distributors of healthier snacks and crisps under the ‘Veronica’s’ brand).

Further information around the new ‘LEO Microfinance’ loan support is available through www.localenterprise.ie/Carlow/ and through www.microfinanceireland.ie.                

 

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