Government launches €500m expansion to SME lending scheme

30 Jul 2020

Image: Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation

The Government is to expand last year’s Future Growth Loan Scheme by €500m to help SMEs, fishers and farmers withstand the Covid-19 crisis and Brexit.

Today (30 July), the Government launched a €500m expansion to the Future Growth Loan Scheme, which is aimed at supporting SMEs, farmers and the fishing industry. The additional funding for the scheme will be provided by the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group.

At the launch, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD, announced that applications are now open for the scheme, with the aim of helping SMEs make investments that facilitate expansion, diversification or improved productivity.

“The past few months have been very difficult for businesses,” he said. “Things will continue to be extremely challenging over the coming months and the new Government must do everything possible to help businesses navigate this unprecedented time and get back on their feet.”

The extension of the scheme was announced last week as part of the Government’s €7.4bn July jobs stimulus package.

The Future Growth Loan Scheme

First launched in 2019, the Future Growth Loan Scheme’s initial €300m fund helped 1,150 SMEs, farmers and fishers to make strategic investments to grow their businesses. In total, the EIB has now provided €800m for the scheme.

Loans of between €25,000 and €3m will be available at competitive rates for terms between seven and 10 years. The scheme aims to support SMEs developing strategic responses to the changing business conditions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and by Brexit.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Dara Calleary, TD, said: “The uptake of the Future Growth Loan Scheme by the agrifood sector has been very strong and I am aware that there has been some unfulfilled demand.

“Not only will the new expansion meet that demand, the evolution of the scheme will assist in meeting the new challenges being posed by Covid-19 and the ongoing challenges the sector has in dealing with Brexit.”

The scheme is supported by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; the EIB and the European Investment Fund; and delivered by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI).

To apply for the scheme, businesses must apply for eligibility through the SBCI. The application form can be found here. Bank of Ireland, AIB and Ulster Bank are now accepting loan applications for the scheme from businesses meeting SBCI eligibility.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic