To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of young entrepreneurs under 25 years of age who have accessed the Micro Finance Fund; the additional measures that are in place to encourage a greater number of younger persons to establish their own business; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Anthony Lawlor.

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 26th November, 2015.

Ref No: 41421/15


Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Mr Bruton TD)

Microfinance Ireland (MFI) has informed me that as at 30th September, 2015, 12 Young Entrepreneurs under the age of 25 have obtained loans from MFI.

MFI has had meaningful engagement with young entrepreneurs following on from the publication of the Review of MFI which was published earlier this year. This has included extending the availability of a specific customised loan product which is particularly aimed at participants in Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) initiative being run by the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs). In addition MFI is at early stage discussions with Youth Business International in relation to the possibility of introducing a National Youth Loan Scheme. The LEOs have also been invited to participate in this scheme. MFI has also had engagement with the GAA and Foroige in terms of encouraging young entrepreneurs and potential young entrepreneurs to access its products.

The Irish Best Young Entrepreneur initiative is a €2 million competition aimed at finding Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur 2015. The aim of the initiative is to support a culture of entrepreneurship amongst young people and promote entrepreneurship as a career choice and encourage young people to set up business and ultimately create jobs.

The competition is open to people aged between 18-30 and a €50,000 investment fund has been made available to the individual 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) to run the competition in their area. A new element of this years competition was to actively seek the participation of young Irish people who have emigrated from Ireland in recent times. 40 of our emigrant young entrepreneurs applied for the competition with a view to setting up business in Ireland and 2 of these have progressed to the final.

Those that entered the competition either completed intensive business bootcamp or were offered other enterprise supports offered through their LEO including business advice meetings or training. 24 Young entrepreneurs have now progressed to the National Final with the Judging Day being yesterday, Wednesday, 25th November, 2015. The winner will be announced on the 6th December with a total of €100,000 in prize funds on offer.

The LEOs are also active in promoting youth entrepreneurship through the Student Enterprise Awards. These Awards are part of the flagship enterprise programme at second level with 17,000 students from all areas of the country involved each year.

The programme aims to give students practical, real life experience of setting up and running their own business and encourage young students to think about entrepreneurship and self-employment as a viable career choice. The programme also aims to enhance the teaching of business and entrepreneurship in schools by combining class room learning with real life experience. The 2016 final of this competition is due to take place in April 2016.