Business Irish

Wednesday 18 October 2017

No State loans went to Leitrim, Kildare, Donegal or Longford

BOBBY KERR: 'There's no point lending if you don't get your money back,' he says
BOBBY KERR: 'There's no point lending if you don't get your money back,' he says
Louise McBride

Louise McBride

Entrepreneurs from Kildare, Leitrim, Donegal and Longford are having a tough time when it comes to state-backed loans.

They are the only four counties in Ireland that have had all loan applications from budding businessmen turned down by Microfinance Ireland, which runs the government-backed Microenterprise Loan Fund scheme.

The scheme, which was launched by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, offers small loans to start-up and newly established businesses. At the time of its launch, Bruton said the scheme would help give start-ups "the small amounts of finance that can be the difference between success and failure".

However, about two-thirds of those who have applied for a loan have either been turned down or are awaiting a decision, according to the latest figures.

Since its launch last October, some 224 start-ups have applied for a loan – but only 79 have been approved. Another 47 are awaiting a decision.

While Kildare, Leitrim, Donegal and Longford have had all their applications for loans rejected, entrepreneurs from Meath and Waterford have not fared well either. Almost 90pc of loan applications from businessmen in those counties were turned down.

Asked why the loan-rejection rate was so high in some counties, a spokesman for the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation said: "Approvals are based on the commercial viability of individual proposals and not the county in which the applicant is located."

When asked why more than half of the total loan applications processed so far were turned down, the spokesman added: "Microfinance Ireland did not approve loans to applicants which were unable to demonstrate their proposal is commercially viable."

Start-ups can only apply to Microfinance Ireland for a loan if they have already been refused credit by their bank.

"Given that someone has already been turned down by their bank for a loan before going to Microfinance Ireland, one would have to surmise they've been turned down for a reason," said Insomnia chairman, Bobby Kerr.

"Microfinance Ireland are trying to lend money to businesses – but there's no point lending if you don't get your money back."

Kerr said that one of the main reasons applicants were being turned down was because they could not prove they could repay loans.

Another scheme launched by Bruton to help businesses raise money is also struggling to get off the ground. The €450m credit guarantee scheme, which has also been up and running since last October, offers a 75pc state guarantee to banks against the losses on loans given to particular businesses.

Though the scheme was expected to provide an additional €150m a year in lending for small businesses, it has lent only €8.5m in its first 10 months. Only 47 businesses have managed to get loans through the scheme since it went live, according to the latest quarterly review of the scheme, which describes the uptake as "disappointing".

Mark Fielding of the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association said the low uptake was largely down to "lack of promotion".

A spokesman for the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation said: "This is a completely new scheme, which had not been tried before despite being called for for many years. In the first 10 months of the scheme, €8.5m had been lent, 393 additional jobs created and 119 jobs protected.

"This is lending and job creation that would not have occurred if the scheme had not been in place. It is a demand-led scheme, guaranteed by the taxpayer, and can only lend out money in response to viable business plans from entrepreneurs."

Sunday Independent

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