Our role is to ensure that SMEs, including microenterprises, can access appropriate and affordable finance suitable to their stage of development. While it remains the responsibility of the banking system to provide credit to businesses, Government, working with agencies, the banking sector and alternative finance providers offers additional targeted supports where there are market failures. A wide range of supports is now available for companies at all stages of their life-cycle – from start-ups and early stage companies to those seeking to scale and grow.
The Department has produced two guides which business may find useful:
Government working with finance providers to support SME financing
This simple guide sets out the types of equity and debt financing supports and resources available to business at all stages of the business cycle.
Currency Risk Management for Irish SMEs
This Government of Ireland Currency Risk Management guide answers many of the questions that Irish SMEs may have when assessing and managing their exposure to foreign currency risk.
Access to finance schemes
Brexit Loan Scheme
The Brexit Loan Scheme is a €300 million loan scheme offering competitively priced loans to eligible Irish SMEs and small mid-caps of up to 499 employees. Scheme features include:
- Loan amount from €25,000 up to a maximum of €1,500,000
- Loan term of up to 3 years
- Loans less than €500,000 will be unsecured
- Interest rate of 4% or less
- Optional interest-only repayments provided at the start of the loans
- Loans can be used for future working capital requirements and to fund innovation, change or adaption of the business to mitigate the impact of Brexit
How to apply
Businesses must apply to the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) to confirm their eligibility for the scheme. As part of the process, businesses must submit a business plan, demonstrating the means by which they intend to innovate, change or adapt to meet the challenges posed by Brexit. Guidance is available on the SBCI website on how to complete a business plan.
Future Growth Loan Scheme
The Future Growth Loan Scheme makes up to €300 million of loans available with a term of 8-10 years. This scheme is available to eligible businesses in Ireland, including those in the primary agriculture (farmers) and seafood sectors, to support strategic long-term investment.
- Loans from €100,000 (€50,000 for farmers) to €3 million
- Loan terms of 8-10 years
- Loans less than €500,000 will be unsecured.
- Initial maximum interest rate is capped at 4.5% for loans up to €249,999 and 3.5% for loans more than or equal to €250,000 for the first six months. The rates thereafter are variable and will be dependent on the cost of funds at that point in time, however the credit margin component of the price has been capped. These rates represent a significant saving compared with the prevailing rates that are otherwise being offered for similar loans on the market.
The Future Growth Loan Scheme is offered by the Government of Ireland, through the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, supported by the EIB Group’s Guarantee Facility.
The scheme is operated by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) through participating lenders.
SME Credit Guarantee Scheme
The SME Credit Guarantee Scheme 2017 aims to assist viable SMEs, which under normal lending criteria are unable to borrow from their bank, in accessing credit. The scheme operates by providing an 80% guarantee (previously 75%) to participating finance providers (currently AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank) on qualifying facilities to SMEs.
- Loan size: from €10,000 to €1 million
- Loan term: up to 7 years
- Loan type: term loans, demand loans and performance bonds
The scheme has been designed to address three barriers to lending:
- Inadequate collateral
- Novel business market, sector or technology which is perceived by finance providers as higher risk under current credit risk evaluation practices
- Need for refinancing caused by the exit of an SMEs lender from the Irish market
The Scheme is operated on behalf of the Department by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and is available from the participating banks. If you are an SME and are encountering one of the 3 barriers set out above, you can approach one of the 3 participating banks and ask for a loan under the scheme.
Microenterprise Loan Fund
The Microenterprise Loan Fund was launched in 2012 to improve access to credit for Microenterprises, and facilitate the growth and expansion of viable businesses from all industry sectors across the country, which do not have access to credit from the banks.
Scheme features include:
- Loan amount from €5,000 up to a maximum of €25,000
- Loan term of up to 3 years (5 years for business expansion loans)
- Free mentoring (where deemed appropriate)
The Fund is administered by Microfinance Ireland (MFI) who make loans of up to €25,000 to start-up, newly established, or growing microenterprises employing less than 10 people, with viable business propositions that do not meet the conventional risk criteria applied by banks.
If you are a microenterprise and want to access a loan from the Microenterprise Loan Fund, you can apply directly to Microfinance Ireland.
Credit Review provides a simple and effective review process for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), sole traders and farm enterprises refused credit from Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, PTSB and Ulster Bank.
Credit Review seeks workable solutions for viable Borrowers who are having difficulty in obtaining credit from all major Banks. Credit Review
- helps all SMEs and farms on lending matters.
- provides expert assistance and information.
Important credit information sheets and updates on current credit issues affecting SMEs and farms are regularly published and available on at creditreview.ie
A call to Credit Review’s helpline on 1850 211 789 is all you need to get assistance.
State Financial Support for SMEs in Ireland
For information on supports available to SMEs in Ireland please see the Supporting SME tool at supportingsmes.ie which sets out the full range of Government financial and other supports.
There are over 170 different Government supports for Irish start-ups and small businesses.
Supportingsmes.ie is a cross-governmental initiative to help Irish start-ups and small businesses navigate the range of Government supports to see which you could possibly apply for. By answering the eight quick questions in the Online Tool, a small business will, in one location be able to:
- Find out which of the over 170 Government business supports from 27 different Government Departments, Agencies and Initiatives are available to them;
- Obtain information on the range of Government supports for accessing credit;
- Be told their nearest Local Enterprise Office to discuss the outcomes of the guide further, and;
- Be able to download all these filtered results into a document for their further use.
Click on the map* to view the nationwide loan figures for Microfinance Ireland (MFI) and the Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS)
*Please note that this tool may not be supported by legacy browsers including IE11
For any further queries, please contact FinanceForGrowth@dbei.gov.ie.