Des McCarthy has been appointed as the new chief executive of state-backed fund Microfinance Ireland.

Microfinance Ireland provide affordable loans for startups and micro businesses through their standard loan, Covid-19 business loan and their Brexit business loan products.

It has a particular focus on lending to those businesses which were refused lending by commercial banks.

MFI saw its most successful year ever last year as it approved €27.4m in loans to 1,229 small businesses, which supported an additonal 2,972 jobs.

After adopted a higher credit risk because of the pandemic, the average loan approval rate increased for the year to 56%.

Since it started trading in 2012, MFI has now approved €63.8m in loans, supporting 3,789 businesses and supporting 9,223 jobs.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar welcomed today's appointment.

Leo Varadkar said that Mr McCarthy comes to the role with considerable experience in the banking sector and the not-for-profit sector.

"His expertise in organisational transformation will be particularly important with increased demand for MFI standard, Covid and Brexit business loans and a much-increased loan book after the high demand of 2020 which saw over €27m in lending," Mr Varadkar said.

The Tánaiste said the months ahead will continue to be challenging for many Irish businesses, and MFI will have an important role to play in helping those struggling with access to funding as the economy reopens.

"I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank Garrett Stokes, the outgoing CEO for his tremendous work over the last five years, developing MFI into an important and recognised funder for micro businesses in every region of Ireland," he added.