19th October 2016

Lending Landscape to Irish SMEs Improving

43,349 jobs in 8,619 Irish SMEs across Ireland supported by €347m in loans
facilitated through Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland

New lending flows to SMEs have increased in nearly every sector of the economy with
both decline rates and application turnaround times decreasing. This was the
positive message emanating from a Business Funding seminar held in the Radisson Blu
Hotel, Ennis Road, Limerick today (Wednesday, 19 October 2016).

The seminar, organised by the Chambers in Shannon, Limerick and Ennis, supported by
the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI), and officially opened by Pat
Breen, T.D., Minister for Employment and Small Business saw the support offerings of
11 public and private sector organisations as well as the SBCI’s seven lending
partners being outlined in a single setting to an audience of over 100 enterprises
from the Mid-West region.

The event was the first of a two-tier process to deliver an Enterprise Engagement
Platform, listed as an action item in the Mid-West Action Plan for Jobs (APJ)
2015-2017. As stated in the APJ, the objective of such a platform is to ‘increase
awareness and take up of national and regional enterprise supports – public and

Opening the seminar, Minister Breen said: “Finance is the lifeblood of every
business, and is needed at every stage of the business development lifecycle; from
the start-up phase through to growth and expansion. Access to Finance and Finance
for Growth has been an issue for Irish businesses for many years, including well
before the economic down turn, and since 2011, the Government has placed a
significant emphasis on addressing the financial needs of SMEs. Substantial work has
been undertaken over recent years to enhance the availability of funding for growth
for Irish companies — the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI), the
Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), the Seed and Venture Capital Scheme,
Microfinance Ireland, and the Credit Guarantee Scheme have all been established and
developed with these fundamental needs of businesses in mind. We have witnessed a
sea change in the financial environment in recent years with the establishment of
the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland as a national promotional financial
institution. Their presence here today is most encouraging, particularly with their
appointment this week as the new operator of the Credit Guarantee Schemes. These
Schemes have resulted in some €60 million of additional loans being sanctioned for
about 400 SMEs since 2012, creating or maintaining approximately 2,500 jobs
throughout the country.

“There is a huge range of supports available – but we understand that just providing
them is not enough; these supports are only meaningful if they are being taken up by
businesses that will use them to grow, expand, or innovate, in ways that perhaps
they couldn’t afford to do otherwise. That is why I am delighted to see that Shannon
Chamber has taken the initiative to organise this event and lead this action from
the Mid West APJ: a local organisation taking on a project that will be of huge
benefit to businesses in the area.

Speaking at the event, the Chambers CEOs, Helen Downes (Shannon Chamber), James Ring
(Limerick Chamber) and Rita McInerney (Ennis Chamber) said: “The genesis of the
Funding seminar was a meeting with Shannon Chamber’s SME members who expressed an
interest in knowing and better understanding the types and levels of financial
support available to them at the various stages of development.

“Funding helps companies to set up, grow, enhance and strengthen their capability
through product and process development. It helps sustain their long-term futures,
be that their sustainability on the domestic market or international expansion
through market extension.

“The level of buy-in and interest we received from the funding organisations
demonstrates their interest in ensuring that their offerings are fully understood by
business. Out next goal is to deliver the online Enterprise Engagement Platform;
this will require significant funding and resources but it is a deliverable the
Chambers are keen to provide, collectively.”

Nick Ashmore, SBCI CEO, in his presentation stated: “We’re here today to spread the
word to businesses in the Mid-West of the availability of SBCI funding from a range
of lenders providing flexible lower-cost financing options for SMEs.

“The SBCI was set up to address failures in the credit market for Irish SMEs and to
drive competition and innovation. To date, our suite of SME loan products has helped
bring down the cost of SME finance and assisted nearly 9,000 Irish businesses. In
addition to the agriculture cash flow support loan fund initiative announced in the
Budget, we are also the new operators of the Credit Guarantee Scheme and we look
forward to continuing to seek ways to support the growth and prosperity of Irish

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