Thursday, 6 August 2015

Social Enterprise Minister launches Community Finance (Ireland) with over €100 million

Recently appointed Minister for Social Enterprise Ann Phelan TD, formally launched Community Finance (Ireland) the new brand for one of the largest providers of finance to the community and voluntary sector on the island of Ireland for the last 20 years.

Previously known as Ulster Community Investment Trust (Ireland), Community Finance (Ireland) is part of the UCIT Group which has to date, invested more than €70 million in over 400 community and volunteer organisations across a range of sectors and projects, including enterprise and workspace projects, rural development projects, childcare schemes, housing associations, community transport, energy & environmental initiatives and sports and recreation facilities.

Donal Traynor, Associate Director of Community Finance (Ireland) said “Our organisation is a volunteer led organisation which was established in response to the decreasing financial support and the difficulties experienced by community organisations in accessing finance.  With over €100 million available in funding, Community Finance (Ireland) is targeting organisations and social enterprises which are delivering an immediate social impact to the community but cannot access finance from traditional lenders like banks or building societies. Community Finance (Ireland) wants to ensure that the services provided by these organisations are not restricted due a lack of finance.”    
“Community Finance (Ireland) is part of an extremely successful track record in Social Impact Investment, with over 400 projects funded on the island of Ireland from Antrim to Kerry, Donegal to Waterford over the last 20 years. Our loan application process is relatively straightforward compared to conventional lending, with less onerous paperwork and due diligence, although, we do we view ourselves as a responsible lender, and there is a very low default rate amongst the projects we have funded.” continued Donal Traynor, Associate Director of Community Finance (Ireland).

Minister for Social Enterprise Ann Phelan, TD added “I am delighted to officially launch the new Branding of Community Finance (Ireland). This volunteer led organisation has given a great deal to the Community and Voluntary Sector over the last 20 years.”

“In my role, I know first-hand how the community and social enterprise can play a pivotal part in the rejuvenation of rural Ireland. Social and Community enterprises provide jobs to those most distant from the Labour market, both spatially and socially. The very nature of social enterprise is to provide services locally and to create jobs in the local communities, which is fundamental tenet of CEDRA, job creation and enterprise development in rural Ireland. At the end of the day, 5-10 jobs in a rural community can make a vast difference.” continued Minister for Social Enterprise Ann Phelan, TD.

Donal Traynor, Associate Director of Community Finance (Ireland) concluded “Borrowing from Community Finance (Ireland) also has the added benefit that it creates a virtuous circle for the community enterprises, as all our profits are retained and recycled for re-investment, which increases the level of available funds for other community organisations.”

The launch of Community Finance (Ireland) was held at the School of Food, in Thomastown, Kilkenny, a custom developed food training and food business support centre, which is part of the community led initiative “Town of Food”. The “Town of Food” project has received significant support from Community Finance (Ireland) in the past year. Also attending the launch were a number of other organisations from the region which have received support from Community Finance (Ireland) including, the Irish Food Co-op from Kilkenny, Dungarvan Utd. from Waterford and the South Eastern Mountain Rescue Association which is based in Tipperary.