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Wicklow nougat-maker to meet Queen of Belgium for European Microfinance Day

On the eve of European Microfinance Day, which takes place tomorrow (Tuesday, October 20th) a Wicklow nougat-maker is taking her business to Brussels, to meet Queen of Belgium and show how the Irish model of microfinance is benefitting more than 600 small businesses here. 

Two Microfinance Ireland clients, Miena Rust of Miena’s Irish Handmade Nougat in Wicklow and John O’Donoghue of Dublin Indoor Football in Fingal also met with the Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash T.D. in Dublin to mark European Microfinance Day and to highlight the accessibility of funding for microenterprises. 

As part of the celebrations for European Microfinance Day, South-African born Rust is demonstrating the success of the Irish microfinance model at a Europe-wide seminar in Brussels. The food entrepreneur will also attend a private audience with Queen Mathilde of Belgium. 

“For small businesses around the country, like Miena’s Handmade Nougat and Dublin Indoor Football, Microfinance Ireland is a tailored financial support, allowing these entrepreneurs to build their companies from the ground up at the right pace for them,” said Minister Ged Nash.   

He added: “I have recently announced changes to the legislation, removing the requirement of a bank to decline credit before application to Microfinance Ireland. This means the process is now even easier for small businesses. We would expect the number of microenterprises seeking finance through Microfinance Ireland to increase significantly in 2016, as a direct result.” 

Michael Johnson, Chief Executive of Microfinance Ireland said: “Microfinance Ireland has already supported 1575 jobs through €10.5million in lending to 683 businesses. By marking the first-ever European Microfinance Day, different loan options that are available to microenterprises here are being highlighted that complement traditional banking.” 

European Microfinance Day (#EMD2015) is organised by the Microfinance Centre and the European Microfinance Network in cooperation with its network of members, including Microfinance Ireland. It aims to raise awareness of microfinance as a tool to fight social exclusion and unemployment in Europe. 

Set up in 2012 by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation under the Action Plan for Jobs, Microfinance Ireland works in partnership with the network of Local Enterprise Offices to offer business loans of between €2,000 and €25,000 to companies with less than ten employees and with a turnover of less than €2m. 

Miena’s Handmade Nougat, supported by Local Enterprise Office Wicklow, was established in 2012 and employs two people. The company supplies eight different flavours of handmade Irish nougat to multiples and independent stores around the country, including 250 SuperValu stores and Avoca Handweavers. 

Dublin Indoor Football, supported by Local Enterprise Office Fingal, was set up in 2013 by John O’Donoghue and his partner Patricia O’Connor. With over 4,000 square metres of astroturf covering four indoor pitches, the sports arena provides facilities for five and seven-a-side football as well as clubs such as the Irish Frisbee Association, stag parties, corporate team-building sessions and children’s activities. The company is currently looking to expand into a second location in South Dublin. 


For all media queries around Microfinance Ireland, please contact Engage IrelandAdrienne Ferguson: Tel: 01 427 8388 / 086 355 2974 /


Photography Note: Photocall Ireland has been commissioned to syndicate reproduction-free images today (Monday, October 19th) from 12noon. Tel: 01 8747124 

About Microfinance Ireland (MFI) Microfinance Ireland (MFI), as a not-for-profit lender, has been established to deliver the Government’s Microenterprise Loan Fund. Unsecured loans are offered from €2,000 up to €25,000, over a 3 to 5 year period. The European Investment Fund signed a guarantee agreement for MFI’s loan book under Progress Microfinance, in 2013. Progress Microfinance is managed by the European Investment Fund on behalf of the European Commission and the European Investment Bank.

EMN and MFC will celebrate the 1st European Microfinance Day, and will do so in cooperation with the 180 members of both networks in the European Union. 

About European Microfinance Day

The first-ever European Microfinance Day (#EMD2015) will be held on Tuesday, October 20th

Organised by the Microfinance Centre and the European Microfinance Network it aims to raise awareness of microfinance as a tool to fight social exclusion and unemployment in Europe. 

The European Microfinance Network’s (EMN) mission is to build up universal and open access to appropriate financial and complementary support services suited to society’s needs at affordable prices allowing people to deploy their talents in order to create wealth and value while having a positive social impact. EMN is empowering its members to become acknowledged actors and partners in the financial sector that reach out to a large number of enterprising people who, in turn, create jobs and contribute to sustainable growth. EMN primarily focusses its activities in European Union and EFTA/EEA member states. 

The Microfinance Centre’s (MFC) mission is to contribute to poverty reduction and the development of human potential by promoting a socially-oriented and sustainable microfinance sector that provides adequate financial and non-financial services to a large numbers of poor families and micro-entrepreneurs. MFC primarily focusses its activities in Central and Eastern Europe and in the Commonwealth of Independent States. 

The event is supported by:

- The Luxembourgish presidency of the EU

- The European Commission - DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

- The EIB Group: European Investment Bank (EIB), European Investment Fund (EIF) and the European Investment Bank Institute (EIBI)

- The European Economic and Social Committee