State lender keeps 2,000 in work, claims Jobs Minister
The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O'Connor, has said that the €11.7m lent by Micro Finance Ireland (MFI) has helped sustain 2,000 jobs.
In a written Dáil reply to Fianna Fáil's Niall Collins, Minister O'Connor described the output by Micro Finance Ireland as "a very satisfactory performance in a difficult market at a very difficult time".
Minister Mitchell O'Connor said that since its inception in October 2012, Micro Finance Ireland (MFI) has approved 867 loans out of a total of 1,826 loan applications received.
She said 591 applications were declined with 317 were withdrawn.
"To secure the future development of MFI my officials are in negotiations regarding securing a tranche of €10m additional Exchequer funding required to keep the fund operating as a going concern beyond 2017 in line with company law requirements," the Minister said.
"This equity injection is combined with additional bank funding of €15m."
Last year, the State-backed not-for-profit lender to micro-businesses saw a record 50pc rise in the number of loan applications.
Approvals for startups, sole traders and small businesses reached an all-time high in 2015 with the lender approving €5.4m in funding to 357 businesses across every county throughout 2015, supporting the creation and maintenance of 930 jobs last year.
MFI was established in late 2012 by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation under the Action Plan for Jobs.
A total of 752 businesses applied for loans in 2015, compared with 508 applications for 2014.
The average loan size approved during 2015 was €15,190.
Figures provided by Minister Mitchell O'Connor show that the highest number of loans approvals to the end of March this year totalled 196 with the number of loans approvals in Cork at 70; Limerick and Meath at 42; Galway 38; Tipperary and Wexford 33; Cavan 32; and Kildare 34. MFI offers business loans of between €2,000 and €25,000.