Ready to lend businesses a helping hand
Bank of Ireland wants to show its support for small businesses by providing more access to credit
'We have credit available and we want to lend," says Bank of Ireland's director of business banking, Mark Cunningham, as he looks forward to the bank's seventh National Enterprise Week. "National Enterprise Week gives us the opportunity to demonstrate our support for Irish SMEs throughout the year, and it gives those SMEs the chance to showcase their businesses and get tips from some of the most successful entrepreneurs and businesspeople in the country."
According to Cunningham, National Enterprise Week is just one aspect of the bank's overall range of supports for SMEs. "The key focus of this week will be on getting access to credit, and Bank of Ireland's track record in this regard speaks for itself. We are on track to approve more than €3.5 billion in new and additional credit for SMEs and farmers during 2012. We have received over 42,000 credit applications and the approval rate is running at 84 per cent. That's 185 credit facilities approved every day and more than 35,000 already this year.
"These customers have advised us that they are using this additional finance to increase output, create efficiencies, sustain employment, find new markets, and invest in their businesses, farms, premises and people," adds Cunningham.
He believes this strong lending performance by the bank reflects some slight improvement in the economic environment. "There is an improvement in the property market in Dublin and Cork, there is significant activity in the agri-food and export sectors and there are some positive signs in relation to the domestic market. It was only last May that we had a referendum on the Fiscal Compact. I believe there is a lot more confidence now in the survival of the euro and this could help generate the momentum needed by the economy."
The popular twice-yearly event has become a well-established feature in local business diaries across Ireland, and runs from today until next Friday, November 23rd. The week kicks off this morning in Bank of Ireland's new Enterprise Lounge in Grafton Street, Dublin, with the unveiling of a brand new service to SMEs: the Bank of Ireland Credit Clinic.
"Enterprise Week is all about innovation," notes Cunningham. "It's about the marvellous capacity for innovation in the Irish SME sector and it's about Bank of Ireland looking for new and innovative ways to support those businesses. The Enterprise Lounge and the Credit Clinics are just two of the new initiatives which we are launching during Enterprise Week 7."
The Enterprise Lounge is a unique departure in Irish banking, explains Gerry Prizeman, head of small business and agriculture at Bank of Ireland. "The Enterprise Lounge will provide business start-ups and entrepreneurs with a space where they can log on, avail of free wifi, do some work and bring clients for business meetings and presentations. The Bank will use the Lounge to host Credit Clinics and other business based seminars and provide opportunities for business owners and early stage start ups to network and support each other." To learn more about this free service, see bankofireland.com/enterprise.