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Microfinance Ireland announces details of its first year lending to small businesses with toal loans of €1.62m. supporting 118 new jobs Back
Microfinance Ireland, set up as part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs to lend to commercially viable micro-enterprises that have been unable to get credit from banks, announced details of its first year of supporting small businesses, which include: €1.62m in lending to commercially viable businesses that could not get credit from banks; Support of 107 micro-enterprises with loans from €2,000 to €25,000 and support of 237 jobs, of which 118 are "new jobs".
Commenting on Microfinance Ireland’s first year, Chief Executive Adrienne Murray said: "Microfinance Ireland is an important source of finance for entrepreneurs with a viable business but who have had difficulty getting credit from a commercial bank, and said the agency, set up by the Government, wants more applications from new and existing businesses.

“We encourage any micro-enterprise – whether a new business or one that has been in existence for some time - that needs to borrow up to €25,000 to contact us if they have been unsuccessful with banks. We were set up to lend to these businesses and we have the funds and the appetite to lend to them,” she said.

She also said Microfinance Ireland wants to lend more and that it wants to see more demand for credit from commercially viable micro-enterprises.

Microfinance Ireland opened for business on 1 October 2012, to provide loans of between €2,000 and €25,000 to micro-enterprises employing 10 people or fewer and which have an annual turnover of€2 million or less. It received its first loan application in November 2012 and the first loan was drawn down in December 2012.

Key points from 12-month period to 30 September 2012:

* Average loan size of €15,000

* 80pc of approvals to businesses employing 3 people or fewer

* 65pc of approvals to start-ups (in business less than 18 months)

* 62pc of applications received via City/County Enterprise Boards; 38pc received directly

* Microfinance Ireland has achieved a wide geographic coverage, with 22pc of applicants from Dublin and 78pc from the rest of Ireland

Loans were approved for micro-enterprises in the following sectors: Retail/wholesale traders (33pc of approvals); Manufacturing businesses (11pc);
Financial services/insurance (11pc); Construction (11pc); Arts/entertainment/recreation (8pc); Accommodation/food (7pc); Other services (19pc).

Ms Murray said: “We have provided loans to entrepreneurs who have to be commended for their hard work, their enthusiasm and their excellent business ideas. We have funded real success stories such as Adare Farm, a specialist ice-cream and milk business, and the Lilliput Loaf Company, a Bridgestone Award-winning bakery - we want to help many more quality businesses like these” (see below).

Borrowers used the loans to fund working capital, to fit out premises, to buy equipment or to invest in promotion or marketing activities.

“Our willingness to fund working capital is hugely important for micro-enterprises,” said Ms Murray.

“One of the biggest concerns these businesses have at present is being able to cover the cost of stock and overheads and get through the critical period between spending money on selling and getting paid by their customers after a successful sale. We can help.”

Microfinance Ireland processed 239 applications by 30 September 2013; it achieved a 10-day turnaround on the applications.

An additional 18 applications were in progress as at 30 September 2013.

Microfinance Ireland approved 45pc of all applications in the 12 months to September. Ms Murray said this level of approvals is similar to the approval rates of similar organisations in other countries and is in line with Microfinance Ireland’s range of expectations when it launched.

New website

Ms Murray concluded by saying Microfinance Ireland has launched a new website in recent days that aims to make it easier for prospective borrowers to apply for a loan. The new website – www.microfinanceireland.ie – contains comprehensive information on the stages involved in applying for a loan, eligibility criteria and FAQs to assist applicants.

She said that entrepreneurs can submit applications directly to Microfinance Ireland or through their local County or City Enterprise Board.

Note 1: Sample businesses that have been supported by Microfinance Ireland

Adare Farm - Tommy Relihan

“The demand for my produce was there but, because of the lack of resources I had at the time, I was unable to pursue it. Getting a loan from Microfinance Ireland allowed me to grow my business to meet this demand.”

Tommy’s Story

Tommy Relihan set up Adare Farm in 2006 as a diversification of an existing dairy and pig farm. Adare Farm produces 15 varieties of homemade luxury artisan ice-cream and old-style bottled, non-homogenised milk. He has both built up an outdoor catering business based around the ‘Pig on a Spit’ concept that can be brought to people’s homes for parties and events. And, as if all that isn’t enough, he runs a farm shop that sells meat from the farm. He has successfully operated the Pig on the Spit at Bloom, Electric Picnic and Christmas Markets.

To develop the business further Tommy needed increased working capital and equipment, including an additional roasting oven. The development would lead to the creation of another full-time job at the farm. Unfortunately, the bank declined his application for finance. Tommy then applied to Microfinance Ireland and was approved a loan of working capital and for the funding of the additional equipment. As a result of being able to expand the business, Adare Farm now employs five full time and four part time staff.

The business is going from strength to strength and Tommy would like to continue to expand the dairy side of the business, adding yoghurt and buttermilk to the range of Adare Farm products. Pasteurised mild from Adare Farm is currently sold in Dunnes Stores, Tesco, Superquinn and some independent retailers in Dublin and the mid-west.

Lilliput Loaf Company - Louis Peppard

"Getting the loan from Microfinance Ireland and having the support of our local Enterprise Board meant we were able to develop our business the way we needed to. In fact, in our first year we were awarded a Bridgestone Good Food Guide Award - 2012 - Best in Ireland. Microfinance Ireland was one of the major steps in helping us to achieve this."

Louis’ Story

In 2010, architect Louis Peppard set up The Lilliput Loaf Company and started experimenting with the science of traditional cooking, creating a range of unique, healthy and home-cooked products. The Lilliput Loaf Company produces potato griddle bread and potato boxty. In addition to these traditional products, Lilliput produce a range of spelt multi seed breads. These are recommended by nutritionists and dieticians as they are recognised as healthy, low-gluten, slow energy release, high-fibre, high-protein and a good source of essential omega oils.

The recent economic downturn had given Louis the opportunity to explore an interest he had developed in traditional cooking further, travelling nationwide to bring his displays to traditional country fairs and heritage shows.

From this home business, he started selling his products at local markets and shows every weekend. With the success of his products, Louis, wife Siobhan and their eldest son Owen Mark began to explore ways of increasing production to meet the increasing levels of demand.
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