Fri, Jul 06, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Taipei City’s zero-interest loans spur entrepreneurs

HELPING HAND:The city government’s initiative offers loans to aspiring entrepreneurs to help them realize their business dreams, an aim which has so far been successful

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

When 34-year-old Taipei resident Hsin Kuang-yi (邢光怡) quit her job last year to open a coffee shop in the city, instead of applying for a loan at a bank, she went to the Taipei City Government for help and received an interest-free loan of NT$1 million (US$340,000).

With the loan and NT$2 million in private capital, she and her business partner, Wu Yen-shuan (吳晏萱), opened a small coffee shop called “Coffer Coffee” in downtown Taipei seven months ago, becoming one of the 196 young entrepreneurs to take advantage of the city’s interest-free loan incentives to start their own businesses.

The zero-interest loan, one of Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin’s (郝龍斌) policies aimed at younger residents, is available for people between the ages of 20 and 40 who have started their own businesses. Those who receive the subsidy do not have to begin repaying the loan for three years.

Since the city government launched the zero-interest loan program in April last year, the city’s Department of Economic Development has given out NT$130 million to 196 Taipei residents, Commissioner Huang Chi-jui (黃啟瑞) said.

Hau yesterday touted the program as a great way to help young entrepreneurs achieve their dreams by giving them “their first bucket of gold,” and said the city government would expand the scope of the program this year.

“Taipei is willing to help young people settle down in the city and achieve their dreams. We are not worried about getting the money back because we’ve given loans to small and medium-sized businesses before and less than 3 percent of those companies had trouble repaying them,” he said yesterday during a visit to the coffee shop.

The city will extend the grace period of loan repayments from three years to five at the end of next month. In addition, the city will provide a rent subsidy to applicants starting their enterprise in August, subsidizing up to 50 percent of their rent for the next five years.

Hsin said the loan program would be a great help for younger business owners like herself and that she expected the city to offer more similar programs in the future.

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