COVID-19: Government announces €1bn of measures to help SMEs

The Government has announced a major expansion of supports for businesses impacted by COVID-19. ...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

15.35 8 Apr 2020

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COVID-19: Government announces...

COVID-19: Government announces €1bn of measures to help SMEs

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

15.35 8 Apr 2020

Share this article

The Government has announced a major expansion of supports for businesses impacted by COVID-19.

It will see €1bn of supports available to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) here.

Business Minister Heather Humphreys announced the details in Dublin on Wednesday.


It will see an expansion of two Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) Loan Schemes by €450m.

These are to provide an extra €250m for working capital and €200m for longer-term loans.

This will bring the total of support liquidity in companies affected by the COVID-19 crisis to €650m.

Sustaining Enterprise Fund

A new €180m Sustaining Enterprise Fund has also been announced  for firms in the manufacturing and international services sectors.

This will be  administered through Enterprise Ireland.

This fund was recently approved by the European Commission in line with EU State aid rules.

The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework to support the economy in the context of the outbreak.

It is available to assist companies in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors who have suffered, or expect to suffer, a 15% or more reduction in turnover or profits - or an increase in costs - as a direct result of COVID-19.

Funding of up to €800,000 will allow businesses to access liquidity and funding to sustain their businesses in the short to medium term.

The fund will be available to companies who are unable to access adequate funding from the market, financial institutions or the SBCI.

Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon said: "Enterprise Ireland client companies have already seen a significant impact on their businesses from COVID-19.

"While their immediate focus has been on dealing with the welfare of their employees, they are also being impacted by a collapse in demand in certain sectors, supply chain disruption and cashflow challenges."

Loan interest rates

An €13m expansion of Microfinance Ireland funding was also announced for loans.

This will see interest rates dropped from 7.8% to 4.5%.

Minister Humphreys said: "We are living in extraordinary times and businesses are having to adopt and change.

"Many smaller companies are still in shock as they witness a complete collapse", she suggested.

"You can adapt and we are here to help".

The Government has previously announced a range of supports - including the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

These measures will further enhance these supports, Minister Humphreys said.

She said the expansion was "the first of a number of extra steps" the Government will take.

There will also be more trading online grants to a total of €7.6m.

This will see two different schemes available, depending on the size of the firm.

SMEs Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe in Government Buildings during a media briefing on COVID-19 measures | Image: Leon Farrell Photocall Ireland

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe added: "Businesses are experiencing unprecedented difficulty of varying degrees.

"Many have let staff go, many have retained staff through the Government’s Wage Subsidy Scheme and many are shifting their model to adapt to new circumstances.

"This package of measures being announced today is designed to offer supports to businesses of all hues, from start-ups to more established companies.

"It is vital that traders examine what is on offer, apply for schemes and loans, many of which are available at reduced rates, to give themselves the best chance of survival during this difficult time.”

The schemes are available to all SMEs.

While Minister Humphreys said the network of 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) around the country had seen a "very significant increase in engagement" in recent weeks.

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Businesses COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment Coronavirus Covid-19 EU State Aid Enterprise Ireland. Government Supports Heather Humphreys Julie Sinnamon Local Enterprise Offices SMES SME Supports Sustaining Enterprise Fund

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