The Deputy will be aware that Microfinance Ireland (MFI) began operations in October 2012 and from the outset, I have emphasised that the potential utilisation figures used were estimated and that the exact requirements of the Scheme are demand led.
My Department and the Microenterprise Loan Fund operator, MFI have committed significant time and resources to the establishment and operation of this Fund. While my officials engage with MFI on an on-going basis in how the Fund is being delivered, I intend to ensure that it is reviewed at an early date to determine what actions might be taken to ensure the use of the Fund is maximised.
Overall demand for credit for microenterprises remains low at just 36%, according to the most recent SME Credit Demand Survey prepared for the Department of Finance (Red C October 2012 to March 2013), although this is up from 30% for the same period 12 months previously (Mazars October 2011 to March 2012).
Quarterly progress reports on the Microenterprise Loan Fund are published on my Department’s website www.enterprise.gov.ie. The progress report detailing the analysis and performance for the quarterly period ending 30 June 2013 is available on my Department’s website. I intend to publish the next progress report to end 30 September 2013 by mid-October. The Report is currently being finalised.