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An Tánaiste welcomes significantly reduced MFI loan rates for entrants to Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition before closing date on 29th September

Not only is Microfinance Ireland offering special discounted loan packages of 5% APR for all entrants in Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) competition, but all 93 county winners will be eligible for further discounted MFI loan packages of 3%* APR

An Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald T.D., today welcomed the announcement that all entrepreneurs entering ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ (IBYE) competition, which is run by the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), can apply for discounted loans through Microfinance Ireland. The closing date for IBYE applications is Friday, 29th September 2017.

A government funded not-for-profit lender, Microfinance Ireland (MFI) is offering business loans of up to €25,000 at a special discounted fixed rate of 5% APR to all entrants in the IBYE competition, which is a significant reduction of 2.8% on its standard rate, for people applying directly to them.

An even further discounted loan package, with a fixed rate of 3% APR, is available* for the category award winners in each local authority area. With 3 categories of award in the IBYE competition for each of the 31 LEOs – Best Business Idea, Best Start-Up and Best Established Business – up to 93 entrants will be eligible to access this highly competitive rate for business loans of up to €25,000.

Now in its fourth year, the IBYE competition is open to anyone between the ages of 18 and 35 and offers a €2 million investment fund through the Local Enterprise Offices. The youth entrepreneurship programme is run by all 31 LEOs with the support of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland. The loans packages are designed specifically with young business owners in mind, and can help a business to start-up, scale-up and expand.

Welcoming the announcement, An Tánaiste said: “Making micro-finance accessible for start-ups and small businesses is an essential element in fostering a culture of entrepreneurship. The on-going collaboration between Microfinance Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices through the IBYE competition is aimed at re-assuring young entrepreneurs that access to finance no longer needs to be an obstacle to starting or growing a business. This discounted finance rates initiative is a great example of intra-Agency collaboration that will benefit their clients. It is also a practical demonstration to entrepreneurs that Ireland is a place where start-ups can thrive and are supported. With just days to go, I would encourage all young entrepreneurs with a business or an idea to submit their IBYE entry before September 29th.”

Garrett Stokes, Chief Executive of Microfinance Ireland, said: “Microfinance Ireland is delighted to be associated, again this year, with this excellent programme run by the Local Enterprise Office Network. Approximately 30% of all our customers are in the youth sector. In support of this programme, we are offering a discounted fixed rate of 5% for loans up to €25,000 to anyone who enters the IBYE competition. In addition, we will enhance this offer further and discount the rate to 3% fixed APR for the county winners in all three categories. Supporting youth entrepreneurs, who wish to set up in business or who are at the early stage of their business growth, is a key element of our business objectives of supporting job creation across Ireland.”

IBYE is co-ordinated every year by the Local Enterprise Offices and Sheelagh Daly of the LEOs said:“Access to discounted loan packages through Microfinance Ireland is another great reason why young entrepreneurs should enter this year’s IBYE competition. In addition to accessing credit at a lower interest rate, young entrepreneurs can also win investment funding and places on Entrepreneur Bootcamps through the Local Enterprise Offices. Young entrepreneurs have everything to gain from entering this year’s IBYE competition. They had better act fast though, as submissions must be made by Friday, September 29th.”

To enter and be eligible for the MFI discounted loans offers*, young entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35 should visit the IBYE website at, to submit their applications online. The closing date for entries is Friday, 29th September, 2017 and there are no entry fees.

Further information and details are also available from the 31 Local Enterprise Offices nationwide through

Information on Microfinance Ireland supports can be found at

*Any loan offers are subject to normal lending criteria with terms and conditions.


For media queries, please contact Engage Ireland: Sarah Bohan at Tel: 087 65 39936 / Email:

Notes to Editor: The Microfinance Ireland loan offer is available to all applicants in the IBYE Best Start-Up and Best-Established Business categories from now until 31st March 2018. For entrants into the IBYE Best Business Idea Category, Microfinance Ireland is aware that it might take longer to commence trading and therefore, for this category only, is extending this loan finance until 30th June 2018. Subject to normal lending criteria, terms and conditions apply.

Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur 2018 (#IBYE)

Website: (closing date to enter: Friday, September 29th 2017)

IBYE: Facts & Figures • A €2 million investment fund, incorporating targeted business development supports. • 3 categories: Best Business Idea, Best Business Start-Up and Best-Established Business. • Co-ordinated by all 31 Local Enterprise Offices across the Local Authority network. Supported by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland. • A record number of entries last year with 1,842 competitors, coming from every county in Ire-land. • Local enterprise training day for all entrants. • 450+ places at Entrepreneur Bootcamps. • Up to 186 local winners and runners-up, sharing investments of between €3,000 and €15,000 each. • 8 Regional Finals. • Investment fund of €100,000 for national winners and runners-up.

Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur is a programme that is open to people between the ages of 18 (at date of application) and 35 (at 31st December 2017) with an innovative business idea, including:

• individuals • venture teams • partnerships • existing businesses with a new idea • people overseas (including Irish emigrants) who will headquarter in Ireland.

Each Local Enterprise Office (LEO) is running a competition in each county (September 29th closing date) aimed at finding winners in each of the three categories as well as an overall county winner.

Each LEO will have a total fund of up to €50,000 to invest in six businesses (three category winners and three runners-up) according to criteria including businesses’ investment needs.

The three categories are as follows: • Best Business Idea (pre-trading) – up to €10,000 investment fund through every LEO (€7,000 for category winner and €3,000 for runner-up, through every LEO) • Best Start-Up Business (up to 18 months), with up to €20,000 investment fund through every LEO (€15,000 for category winner and €5,000 for runner-up, through every LEO) • Best Established Business (over 18 months) with up to €20,000 investment fund through every LEO (€15,000 for category winner and €5,000 for runner-up, through every LEO)

The county winners will then proceed to eight regional finals from which 24 contenders (three from each region – one in each category) will be selected to compete for the national title of Ire-land’s Best Young Entrepreneur. A further €100,000 investment fund will be available to invest in the winners of the three categories at the national final, one of which will also be named as Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur for 2018.

About Microfinance Ireland (MFI): Microfinance Ireland (MFI), as a not-for-profit lender, has been established to deliver the Government’s Microenterprise Loan Fund. Microfinance Ireland benefits from a guarantee funded by the European Union under the Programme for Employment and Social Innovation(EASI).

Microfinance Ireland Loan PackagesStart Up Loans: €5,000 - €25,000 for set-up and early stage trading business • Cashflow Loans: €5,000 - €25,000 for existing businesses to support cashflow and day-to-day running costs • Expansion Loans: €5,000 - €25,000 for existing businesses to support business development and expansion • Small Loans: €2,000 - €5,000 for small businesses (Start-ups and Existing Business) with low funding requirements