Mayo Fine Gael TD, Michelle Mulherin, has welcomed the findings of a review of Microfinance Ireland (MFI ) which has been published by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. MFI provides loans of up to €25,000 to businesses which employ 10 people or fewer and which are not able to access credit from traditional sources like banks. The report found that in its first two years of operations, MFI received 729 applications for loans, supported 743 jobs in 333 micro-enterprises, and approved loans valued at more than €5 million.
Mulherin said: “I find it encouraging that the 76 per cent of microfinance loans went to businesses outside Dublin. This is in line with Government policy, is clear evidence of significant economic activity by small businesses outside of the capital.
“The report reflects very well on the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs ) which the Government established last year. There is one in every county in the State, and they provide guidance to businesses and help them to navigate the system in terms of getting loans and availing of available supports. The report finds that LEOs are playing an important role in helping to deliver loans to their clients and that the initiative has worked very well, and should be deepened.”
She went on to say: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and are a vital part of our plan to return the country to full employment by 2018. Fine Gael is the pro-enterprise party and we want to help small businesses realise their potential and take advantage of the opportunities offered by the economic recovery that is beginning to take hold.”
The Ballina based deputy said: “We have drastically cut red tape for business and the ‘Supporting SMEs Online Tool’ brings together over 80 Government business supports into one website to help small businesses navigate and avail of the supports available to them. Central Bank research shows that start-up companies in their first five years of existence account for two thirds of all new jobs created in Ireland. Fine Gael is standing up for small businesses, an integral part of keeping small towns and villages alive and helping them thrive.”