Microfinance Ireland (MFI) supporting 1,000 jobs to date in its second year of operations

Microfinance Ireland (MFI) is aiming to support a further 1,000 jobs in 2015 through providing finance to micro-enterprises who have been unable to secure funding elsewhere.  Since its inception in October 2012, more than 1,000 jobs have already been supported by Microfinance Ireland through its lending to businesses which have 10 employees or less and a turnover of less than €2m per annum.  The Government provided funding of €10m as part of the Action Plan for Jobs to enable Microfinance Ireland provide loan finance to micro-enterprises who have not been able to access loans elsewhere.   

After its second full year of trading, Microfinance Ireland has doubled its previously approved lending.  Microfinance Ireland’s portfolio of approved loans now stands at over €6m.  Over 75% of lending by Microfinance Ireland has been to businesses located outside Dublin and the average loan size is around €15,000.  

To date, some 430 micro-enterprises have benefited from Microfinance Ireland loans.  Businesses from any sector can qualify for Microfinance Ireland funding as long as they have less than 10 employees and a turnover of less than €2million per annum.  Three-quarters of the 1,000 jobs supported by Microfinance Ireland funded projects are outside of Dublin.   Speaking today, Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash TD said, “Government initiatives like Microfinance Ireland are now bearing real fruit, impacting on real jobs and providing real hope for business people and their families who are entrepreneurs.  These people create jobs – not just take them up.   

“I am particularly pleased to see that 75% of the micro-enterprises surveyed by Microfinance Ireland say they plan to hire new staff this year.  Small and medium size businesses really are the engine of our economy and this level of confidence among Microfinance Ireland’s clients bodes well for our targets to return to full employment by 2018.”  

“I believe the strong level of engagement between Microfinance Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices, which are a first stop shop for small businesses is working very well.  This is a joined up approach and frankly makes a lot of sense as microenterprises can go to their LEO for advice, mentoring and to access supports available from Government, but also can use the LEO as a link to getting small loans from Microfinance Ireland to grow their businesses.”  

Speaking about Microfinance Ireland’s success to date, Michael Johnson, Chief Executive, said “We plan to expand during 2015 and have an ambition to support a further 1000 jobs, provided the economy continues to grow at the predicted rate of approximately 3%.  The cost per job ratio and social impact represent an excellent return both on a social and economic basis. Our ambition is to double our loan portfolio and approve lending of a further €6m in 2015, which would bring total approved lending to €12m.  We believe this is achievable as the recovery gains pace.  Already, 75% of the existing customers we surveyed expect to hire additional staff in 2015.”  

During 2015, Microfinance Ireland will be working closely with the Local Enterprise Offices to promote the availability of funding to small businesses and to maximise the impact and reach of the organisation.  Microfinance Ireland also accept direct applications and are working closely with the Pillar Banks in making it easier for people declined by the mainstream banks to engage with Microfinance Ireland.  

Microfinance Ireland is a 100% owned subsidiary company of the Social Finance Foundation and is a private not for profit entity which has been mandated by Government to deliver its statutory based Microfinance Loan Fund.   The EPMF fund from the EIF covers some of the risk by providing a partial guarantee against its portfolio of lending.  The EPMF (European Progress Microfinance Fund) is a Europe-wide fund that underwrites some of the risk taken on by organisations like Microfinance Ireland.

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