Businesses who have borrowed money from Linked Finance, have grown their staff numbers by an average of 24%, according to a survey of customers conducted by the company. 72% of respondents to the survey by Ireland’s leading peer-to-peer (P2P) lender said the funds they had raised through the platform had helped them to grow their teams, with 68% planning to hire more staff this year.

The companies surveyed had grown from an average of 10 employees to almost 13 post-funding. When these figures are applied to all 892 Irish SMEs the platform has supported so far, the survey suggests that funding secured with Linked Finance has directly led to the creation of over 2,400 new jobs since 2013.

SMEs account for over 69%, or 968,000, of jobs in the Irish economy, according to the CSO*, and access to credit to facilitate expansion is a key factor in SMEs ability to grow. Access to credit (26%) was identified as the most challenging issue out of five on which the businesses were surveyed, followed by recruitment (24%), taxation and regulation (24%), and increasing costs (18%). Only 8% of the companies surveyed identified Brexit as the biggest challenge they were facing.

Niall Dorrian, CEO of Linked Finance said:

“Whilst there is a lot of focus on multinationals in the Irish economy, the contribution of SMEs to employment and job creation is often overlooked. Companies using Linked Finance have been able to grow their staff numbers by an average of 24% and we’re proud that we have been able to help them access the capital needed for expansion.”

Business sentiment among Irish SMEs looks to be strong, with Linked Finance’s survey showing that 81% of companies are positive or very positive about the outlook for their business in 2018. This is consistent with ISME’s recent quarterly business trends survey** which showed confidence amongst its members at a 21-month high.

Linked Finance has seen a strong increase in demand across the first two months of 2018, following a transformative 2017 for the lending platform, which saw total loans made of €24.2m, an increase of 155% on the prior year. The company has now provided more than 1,300 loans to Irish SMEs since its launch in 2013, more than €46 million in funding with €3.5 million in interest already earned by Linked Finance lenders.

Niall Dorrian, CEO of Linked Finance continued:

“The high level of business confidence we see in this survey is reflected in the demand we’re seeing for new lending on the platform. SMEs need a quick decision on a loan application and don’t have the resources to engage in the lengthy procedures which are expected by some traditional lenders. This is why peer-to-peer lending is such an attractive option, with an easy online application process and same day credit decision on loans of up to €250,000.”

Companies that have been supported by Linked Finance loans include Viking Splash Tours, Lolly & Cooks, Murphy’s Ice Cream, Iconic Offices and the Irish Fairy Door Company.

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