Funding of some €30 million to enable would-be entrepreneurs in Ireland to start and grow a business has been made agreed.
The European Investment Fund, whose aim is to back so-called ‘micro-enterprises,’ has signed an agreement with the State-backed not-for-profit Microfinance Ireland to support more than 2,000 Irish start-ups over the next five years.
A microenterprise is defined as a company with fewer than 10 employees and an annual turnover of less than €2 million.
Under the agreement, Microfinance Ireland will provide unsecured business loans of between €2,000 to €25,000 for commercially viable plans with sole traders, partnerships and limited companies all eligible to apply.
Chief executive Garrett Stokes estimated that the new agreement would help it create and sustain more than 4,000 jobs over the next five years.
Microfinance Ireland was established in September 2012 as part of the original Action Plan for Jobs scheme. It approved a record 400 loans totaling €5.5 million to businesses last year, with many of these unable to get finance required from regular lending institutions.
Overall, the organisation has provided €22.6 million in approved loans to 1,567 businesses since it was founded.
“We can safely say that these loans are an excellent means to boost jobs and growth, whereby the most vulnerable people in the labour market are not left behind,” said European commissioner for employment, social affairs, skills and labour mobility, Marianne Thyssen.