Budding entrepreneurs check out bank lounge

Sat, Nov 17, 2012, 00:00

With the market for mortgages less than buoyant, Bank of Ireland has decided to revitalise an old branch of The Mortgage Store and kick-start Enterprise Week.

Located at the corner of Dublin’s Grafton and Nassau streets, its new Enterprise Lounge offers a free work space for budding entrepreneurs and small business owners to host their own meetings and attend seminars and clinics.

The lounge was launched yesterday with a series of credit clinics, at which smaller and medium sized businesses got an insight into the bank’s small business lending application process.

With the banks in line for criticism for failing to meet demand for SME lending, Bank of Ireland said yesterday that it is “on track” to meet its commitment of €3.5 billion in lending to the SME sector this year, rising to €4 billion in 2013. Checking out the lounge yesterday was a host of budding and more established entrepreneurs.

Tomasz Chmielewski has just celebrated the third anniversary of his chain of Polish food and grocery shops, Mroz.

Chmielewski initially set up and ran five shops before deciding to sell them on and run them as a franchise. He now has a chain of 12 stores, seven of which are in Dublin, with another three due to open this month. His goal is to open another 10 shops over the coming year. To date, the business has funded itself, although Chmielewski said he may look for bank financing to cover the cost of cars needed for the business.

James Stephenson has availed of the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance scheme to set up on his own as a producer with Badbear productions.

He is currently working on Mario Rosenstock’s new television programme.

Sean Fogarty turned to creating furniture from old floor boards when business for his architectural practice, Open Office, started to slow. He linked up with a carpenter who was facing similar problems to form Rocker Lane Workshop, and the duo have since gone on to stage an exhibition at the Royal Hibernian Academy, as well as sell picture frames in the Budda Bag shop in Dublin.