More than €22 million in loans were approved by Microfinance Ireland last year for would-be entrepreneurs to start and grow a business.
The State-backed not-for-profit firm offers loan funding up to €25,000 to both new and existing small businesses in the Republic.
In its annual results, published on Thursday, it said €22.6m of loans were approved under the scheme in 2017, which is part-funded by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. The funds helped to support 3,952 jobs in borrowing companies.
Minister for Trade, Employment and Business Pat Breen said it was "very encouraging" to see demand for Microfinance Ireland's services "continues to grow".
“This initiative is making a real difference across every town and county in Ireland,” he said.
Meanwhile, additional funding of some €30 million has been made available following an agreement between Microfinance Ireland and the European Investment Fund (EIF). It will support more than 2,000 Irish start-ups over the next five years.
“This additional guarantee provided by EIF is also a very strong endorsement of Microfinance Ireland and the valuable work they do in supporting micro-businesses looking to start and grow a business,” said Mr Breen.
“This guarantee will enable a large number of additional micro-enterprises, who may be challenged in accessing funding from traditional lending providers, to avail of loan finance over the next five years.”