25 October 2019

New entrepreneur program launches low-interest loans

| Lighthouse Innovation
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Gil Miller

Gil Miller from City Precincts. Photos by: Colleen Miller.

Access to funding to grow your business is always a challenge, especially in the early years. A new low-interest loan program has been launched to assist those businesses not in a position to take on bank debt or not seeking equity investment.

The Epicorp Development Loan Fund (EDLF) provides a limited number of low-interest rate loans of up to $20,000 to eligible companies seeking to grow or further develop their existing business. The unsecured loans will attract a 5 per cent flat interest rate and will be repayable over two years.

The genesis of this type of funding program is the micro-loan phenomena where small loans are provided to borrowers who lack collateral, are not generating enough income to support a traditional loan, or who do not have a strong credit history. These loans were started to support entrepreneurship and allow enterprises to become sustainable.

Epicorp Limited was established in 2001 under the then Federal Government ITC incubator program to focus on supporting and funding early-stage commercialisation of research from across the country. Epicorp’s role was to work with these start-ups and spin-off ventures to develop strong business models through tailored programs and the provision of seed funding. This funding was provided as equity and so Epicorp took a share in the enterprises it supported. In 2008, the ICT incubator program ended, but Epicorp’s work continues as it divests of its existing portfolio and supports the new generation of emerging ventures. Epicorp no longer provides seed funding nor takes equity in the enterprises it supports; it now provides support through low costs loans and assistance in other forms.

One of the key strengths of this program is that it also provides loan recipients with access to mentoring and networking opportunities. The funds may be used for a range of purposes, for example, the purchase of equipment and materials required to service an existing or upcoming contract or project.

The program is agnostic of industry sector or technology used and any eligible business from the ACT and surrounding region is able to apply.

The program has awarded its first two loans.

Gil Miller has just been successful in securing funding for his City Precincts project, a platform for users to gain an understanding of Canberra as a unique city and for businesses to effectively promote themselves at an affordable price to a targeted audience.

George Maclean-Azumah

George Maclean-Azumah from MedConnet.

George Maclean-Azumah from MedConnet has also been successful in securing a loan. MedConnet allows health practitioners to securely document each consultation, prepare treatment plans and ongoing monitoring regimes. Available as a mobile app for patients and a web version for health practitioners it provides an easy way to manage post-consultation care with patients.

To be eligible for an EDLF loan an applicant must:

  • Be an established company in the ACT and surrounding region (with an ABN/ACN).
  • Have an existing product or service.
  • Have the agreement of all shareholders and board members if required, to take on the loan.
  • Be able to support the loan without imposing undue stress on the business.
  • Have an annual turnover of less than AUD$1m and cannot obtain traditional debt financing and are not seeking equity investment at this stage.

For more information visit https://www.lighthouseinnovation.com.au/funding/entrepreneur-development-loan-fund.html.

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