€30m EIF boost to benefit 2,100 Irish micro-entrepreneurs

31 Jan 2018

Image: SabOlga/Shutterstock

EIF guarantee is vital for people looking to start and grow small businesses.

The European Investment Fund (EIF) has signed a guarantee worth €30m with Microfinance Ireland (MFI) to ensure support for 2,100 micro-entrepreneurs.

Micro-enterprises are businesses that have fewer than 10 employees and annual turnover of less than €2m.

Funded under the European Commission’s EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation, MFI is a not-for-profit lender established in 2012 to deliver the Government’s Microenterprise Loan Fund.

It provides an alternative source of funding to micro-enterprises – both new and existing – that may be having difficulties in accessing finance from commercial providers. It ultimately supports the creation and retention of jobs.

“Thanks to this new financial boost of €30m from the EU, more than 2,000 micro-entrepreneurs will get financial support to start up or develop their business,” said the European commissioner for employment, social affairs, skills and labour mobility, Marianne Thyssen.

“Considering that Microfinance Ireland already created 4,000 jobs through loans to small businesses, we can safely say that these loans are an excellent means to boost jobs and growth, whereby the most vulnerable people in the labour market are not left behind.”

Record number of loans in 2017

MFI reported that a record number of 400 loans, totalling €5.5m, were approved in 2017, supporting the creation and sustainment of more than 1,100 jobs.

This brings to 3,952 the number of new jobs supported by MFI through €22.6m in approved loans to 1,567 businesses since it was established as part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs in late 2012.

“I am delighted with the ongoing progress being achieved by Microfinance Ireland who last year supported the creation and sustaining of over 1,100 jobs by providing loans to over 400 small businesses at a cost of under €2,500 each – the cheapest rate of any Government job initiative – across every town and county in Ireland, many in vulnerable sectors such as youth, unemployed, females, migrants and seniors,” said MFI chair Cyril Forbes.

“The guarantee from EIF is an important endorsement for the valuable support provided by MFI to small businesses who may be having difficulties in accessing much-needed finance for their business. This five-year guarantee from EIF, which enables MFI to continue to support financially vulnerable micro-enterprises, is a very welcome development.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years