Agri entrepreneurs are turning to peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding as an alternative to the banks
Farmers who set up rural businesses to sustain their income are turning to crowdfunding sites to finance their ventures, with some businesses raising tens of thousands in a matter of minutes and hours.
Peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding sites are taking off among farming and agri-food business start-ups in Ireland, a conference on farm diversification has heard.
Orla Casey from Momentum Consulting told the conference at GMIT that she was seeing more and more Irish rural start-ups turn to such sites. She said there was often a lack of awareness and a fear factor among farmers when it came to identifying where the funding opportunities were.
"It's not all about grants. Microfinance and crowdfunding are becoming so, so popular and so beneficial. I am seeing it more and more often and in the UK, 10pc of all business is using two formats, crowdfunding and pee-to-peer lending.
"In Ireland it is particularly popular with farming, agri food and tourism businesses. It is a little more expensive but the money is available much quicker," she said.
Ms Casey has over 20 years experience of accessing grants locally, nationally and internationally. She said the format also provides an opportunity to increase brand awareness.
"Not only are they securing finance but they are finding it really beneficial from a brand point of view. If you have a few hundred people invest in your business, they are going to want it to succeed. It's really not as complicated as you think and it's brilliant for building a profile and getting your business idea out there," she added.
One rural business which saw the benefits of peer-to-peer lending first-hand was Macroom Buffalo Mozzarella in Cork which raised a staggering €50,000 in just four minutes at an interest rate of 8.5pc.