22 January 2015

Microfinance Ireland (MFI) has announced details of a partnership with the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme that sees €1/4 million finance ring-fenced for young entrepreneurs undertaking the nine month business incubation programme, based at UCC, which is aimed at nurturing, developing and strengthening entrepreneurial potential.

The ‘Microfinance/ IGNITE’ loan partnership, run through MFI’s local partners, the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in Cork City and County, offers loans of between €2,000 and €25,000, at a reduced rate of interest, as well as advice and support during the application stage.

The loans available can be used for working capital, as well as items like equipment, hiring new employees and marketing campaigns. The current IGNITE intake of 12 businesses, which is two more than in previous years, from industry sectors as diverse as energy, IT, food, health and fitness, and social media; will be encouraged to apply if they are finding it difficult to access credit for their start-up elsewhere.

Speaking about the new partnership, Michael Johnson, Chief Executive of Microfinance Ireland said “Since Microfinance Ireland opened its doors just over  two years ago, we’ve made significant progress, approving loans to over 430 small businesses, providing over €6.5 Million  in approved  lending, supporting over 1,000 jobs to date.”

He continued “Supporting jobs is at the very heart of what we do and providing loan assistance to viable businesses through the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme will help unlock these companies potential to create jobs.”

Welcoming the launch of the new support, Eamon Curtin, Director of the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme said “Through this partnership arrangement with Microfinance Ireland and the LEOs, our participants can gain access to the credit they need now, to help their business develop and grow into the future. If IGNITE participants have been unsuccessful with securing finance from banks or other lending resources, MFI offers a viable alternative to these businesses as they have the funds and the appetite to lend and support them.”

He continued “If microenterprises and start-ups are the driving force behind the Irish economy, then access to credit is critical for our recovery and job growth. This partnership is a welcome addition to the range of supports available to IGNITE participants.”

Sean O’Sullivan, Head of Enterprise at the Local Enterprise Office South Cork said “Getting access to credit can still be difficult, especially for young people looking to get new ventures off the ground, and up and running. We are very well-placed to understand the needs of small businesses in our community. Through the partnership with Microfinance Ireland, the LEOs can now offer a tailor-made loan product to IGNITE participants, at a reduced rate for the term of the loan, in addition to our other enterprise supports.”

MFI, a not-for-profit lender, was established in October 2012 and received its first loan application the following month. It was set up to provide additional lending to start-up and existing micro enterprises, and deliver the Government’s Microenterprise Loan Fund, announced in the Action Plan for Jobs.  

The IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme is also supported by Cork City Council, Cork County Council, the Local Enterprise Offices in Cork City and County, UCC and Bank of Ireland. The Programme is now open for expressions of interest for next year’s intake, starting in October. To submit an expression of interest or for further information, visit http://ignite.ucc.ie or email ignite@ucc.ie.


Further information on Microfinance Ireland is available at www.microfinanceireland.ie.