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Reform of National Micro and Small Business Support Structures: Discussion at Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Deputy Anthony Lawlor:

I hark on about two issues. First, the LEOs will be the first stop for the microenterprise fund. Second, although a large number of young people are unemployed, we have a high entrepreneurial base among them, the highest in Europe. I do not like quoting the Minister but he referred to young people gaining access to the microfinance fund. Perhaps he will direct LEOs to place an increased emphasis on assisting young people with ideas when they apply for microfinance. Many schools have participated in CEB schemes and there is a lot of competition among them. A lot of good ideas have emanated from schools but they have found it difficult to secure microfinance. They should not be handicapped simply because of their youth. I hope LEOs will play a role in identifying young entrepreneurs and, as the Minister said earlier, they should be given bonus points when it comes to the allocation of funding. I have met a couple of people who have found it difficult to secure microfinance.

Deputy Richard Bruton:

Deputy Lawlor has talked previously about the importance of young entrepreneurs, and we have many programmes that are equally available to young and more established microfinance competitive starts. There may be a case for examining a tranche. Last year we had a very successful tranche aimed at women entrepreneurs. It started at €250,000 and was so over-subscribed that we increased it to €750,000 within months. That worked as a way of having a particular brand and looking for entrepreneurs in a particular class. It is worth considering whether we can do something in that sphere.

To be fair, there is a great deal happening in this space also. I launched UStart in the universities. The Young Scientist exhibition does something around entrepreneurship. There are a number of elements to this. The Department is working on an entrepreneurship strategy and we will be looking at this entire area. We will definitely consider the Deputy’s interest in young entrepreneurs and their potential.

Deputy Anthony Lawlor:

I thank the Minister for that. I will make a presentation to him that was given to me last week on a youth entrepreneurial fund. It came from a group of young people in Celbridge and it contains good proposals.

Deputy Richard Bruton:

I thank the Deputy for that.

ENDS