Ministers Donohoe, Humphreys and Creed meet EIB and SBCI for formal agreement of €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme

22nd January, 2018

Results of new DBEI B&A survey of SMEs on Brexit announced


Businesses urged to make a Brexit plan as survey finds three quarters of SMEs expect to be impacted by Brexit in the next 18 months.


Minister for Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD; Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation,  Heather Humphreys TD; and  Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD have met with representatives of the European Investment Bank Group (EIB) and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) for the formal agreement of  a counter guarantee through the European Investment Fund to allow for the roll out of €300m in funding to Irish businesses under the Government’s Brexit Loan Scheme.


In last October’s budget, €14 million was secured by the then Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, together with €9 million by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, for the €23m for the Brexit Loan Scheme. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s share of funding ensures that at least 40% of the fund will be available to food businesses. The scheme is supported by the European Investment Bank Group, the European Commission and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland.


The signing of the counter guarantee agreement means that the total amount of €23m can be leveraged to provide €300m to Irish businesses affected by Brexit. The Scheme will be open to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees from March 2018, and has the potential to benefit over 5,000 companies.


At today’s signing, Minister Humphreys also released the findings of her Department’s second survey of SMEs about the impacts of Brexit on their businesses.


The Behaviours & Attitudes (B&A) survey, which was conducted last autumn, found that while 75% of SMEs expect to be impacted by Brexit over the next 18 months, only 16% of SMEs have a formal Brexit contingency plan. Speaking at the signing, Minister Humphreys asked businesses to start planning now. “The first step is to identify the lead person in your organisation who can assess potential impacts and scenarios and write your Brexit Contingency Plan.”


“My Department has a number of supports in place to help companies to develop their Plans, including the Enterprise Ireland Brexit SME Scorecard and the Be Prepared Grant of up to €5,000.”


The B&A survey asked businesses about how they are responding to Brexit, and what financial supports they need in order to respond. The survey found that almost half of the firms were not investing in their businesses. When asked why, Brexit uncertainty is cited as a key reason. Furthermore, 21% of medium sized businesses have postponed at least one investment decision in reaction to Brexit.


Minister Humphreys said: “It’s time for Irish businesses to start planning and preparing for Brexit. The Brexit Loan Scheme will provide financing support at lower interest rates and with lower collateral requirements. I encourage businesses to use this financing to help improve their operational competitiveness, to innovate or to diversify their trade footprint as they prepare to face Brexit over the next year and beyond.”

Minister Creed said, “I welcome the signing of the guarantee agreement today, which will facilitate the launch of the Brexit Loan Scheme. This will provide affordable, flexible working capital financing to Irish SMEs and mid-caps that are either currently impacted by Brexit or who will be in the coming period. It will give those businesses time and space to adapt and to grow into the future. Given their unique exposure to the UK market, my Department’s funding ensures that at least 40% of the €300 million Scheme will be available to food businesses.

Food businesses will need to focus on competitiveness and innovation in order to continue the growth in Irish agri-food exports, which reached a record €13.5 billion in 2017. I believe that supporting lower-cost flexible finance is a key Government response to assist the sector in this process”.

Minister Donohoe said: “The announcement of the guarantee agreement today between the SBCI and the EIB is most welcome. This guarantee will provide essential support to the Brexit Loan Scheme, which I announced during Budget 2018. In order to remain competitive in a changing world, businesses will need to innovate and look to new markets to cope with the challenges of Brexit. This scheme will allow businesses to put in place the necessary changes to help them grow into the future. I look forward to continued collaboration with the EIB Group into the future and to seeing the value of this Scheme benefit thousands of companies across the country.”

Speaking at the signature event in Dublin, EIB Vice-President, Andrew McDowell, commented: “The European Investment Bank Group recognises the unique challenges facing Irish companies from Brexit. This new EUR 300 million scheme will support new investment by companies most vulnerable to future export and trade uncertainties and demonstrates the EIB Group’s enhanced support for private sector investment across the country.”

SBCI CEO, Nick Ashmore said “Today’s signing is a key milestone for the SBCI in the delivery of the Brexit Loan Scheme to enable eligible businesses to implement the changes necessary to address the challenges they will face because of Brexit. This European Investment Fund (EIF) guarantee agreement, backed by the European Commission (EC) and together with the exchequer funding secured by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, will enable the SBCI to deliver €300 million of much needed working capital facilities into impacted Irish businesses.”

The new European Investment Fund support for business investment in Ireland is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments and the EU InnovFin Finance for Innovators programme.






About the Brexit Loan Scheme

The Brexit Loan Scheme, which was announced in the 2018 budget will provide affordable financing to businesses that are either currently impacted by Brexit or will be in the future. The scheme, which will be delivered by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) through commercial lenders will make €300 million available to businesses with up to 499 employees at an interest rate of 4% or less.

Loan features:

  • 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


Loans can be used for:

  • Future working capital requirements.
  • To fund innovation, change or adaption the business to mitigate the impact of Brexit.


About the DBEI B&A Survey


This is the second in a series of surveys conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes on behalf of DBEI seeking the views of  SMEs in Ireland on the impact of Brexit on their businesses.  Sample profiles have been constructed to be comparable from one survey to another. The sample size is 547 businesses. The first survey was done in January 2017.


Brexit: The View of Irish SMEs  


About EIF


The European Investment Fund (EIF) is part of the European Investment Bank Group. Its central mission is to support Europe’s micro, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by helping them access finance. EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments which specifically target this market segment. In this role, EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment. More information on EIF’s work under EFSI is available here.


About the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI)


As Ireland’s promotional financial institution, the SBCI’s goal is to ensure access to lower cost longer term funding for Irish SMEs by facilitating the provision of:


  • Credit products with longer maturity and capital repayment variability, subject to lender credit approval;
  • Lower cost funding to finance providers, the benefit of which is passed on to SMEs;
  • Market access for new entrants to the SME lending market, creating real competition in the Irish market;
  • Risk-sharing that addresses specific market failures;
  • Sourcing and delivering EU funding.


All of these elements create a more competitive and dynamic environment for SME finance. The SBCI is a vital part of the country’s financial architecture. By taking a fresh approach to providing access to lower cost finance for SMEs in Ireland, the SBCI is actively supporting the long-term potential of the sector to drive economic growth and create jobs.


About the Juncker Plan

The Investment Plan for Europe, the so-called “Juncker Plan”, is one of the European Commission’s top priorities. It focuses on boosting investments to create jobs and growth by making smarter use of new and existing financial resources, removing obstacles to investment and providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects. 

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) is the central pillar of the Juncker Plan. It provides a first loss guarantee, allowing the EIB to invest in more, often riskier, projects. The EFSI is already showing concrete results. The projects and agreements approved for financing under the EFSI so far are expected to mobilise more than EUR 194 billion in investments and support over 426,000 SMEs across all 28 Member States. 


About InnovFin


The InnovFin SME Guarantee Facility is established under the “EU InnovFin Finance for Innovators” initiative developed under Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for research and Innovation. It provides guarantees and counter-guarantees on debt financing of between EUR 25,000 and EUR 7.5 million in order to improve access to loan finance for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises and small mid-caps (up to 499 employees). The facility is managed by EIF and is rolled out through financial intermediaries – banks and other financial institutions – in EU Member States and Associated Countries. Under this facility, financial intermediaries are guaranteed by the EU and EIF against a proportion of their losses incurred on the debt financing covered under the facility.