Expansion of COVID-19 business supports for SMEs - Crowe Ireland

Expansion of COVID-19 business supports for SMEs

Details announced 8 April 2020

Expansion of COVID-19 business supports for SMEs - Crowe Ireland

UPDATE: On 2 May, the government outlined a €6.5bn package of new supports to help businesses impacted by COVID-19. Read detail.

Minister for Business Heather Humphreys has announced further measures to help businesses cope with liquidity challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The extra package brings to €1b the total amount of liquidity measures being made available for small- and medium-sized Irish businesses.

SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Loan Scheme (expanded)

The €200m SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Loan Scheme will increase by €250m to €450m. The scheme has so far received more than 1,400 applications for liquidity support. Loans can be between €25k and €1.5m at a maximum interest rate of 4%. Loan terms range from one to three years and loans can be unsecured up to €500k. Interest-only repayments may be available at the start of the loans.

SBCI Future Growth Loan Scheme (expanded)

This scheme is increased by a further €200m in funding which will be released in tranches, to provide longer-term loans to businesses impacted by COVID-19. Loan amounts will range from €100k to a maximum of €3m per applicant. Loan terms range from eight to ten years and loans of up to €500k can be unsecured. Interest-only repayments may be available at the start of the loans. The maximum interest rate will be 4.5%.

The original scheme, launched last summer, had been almost fully used up so this expansion is welcome. It will help companies who are not significantly impacted at this time but see opportunities to improve their business

Business Continuity Voucher (no change)

The €2.5k Business Continuity Voucher is available through Local Enterprise Offices. The voucher is designed for businesses across every sector that employ up to 50 people. The voucher can be used by companies to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Microfinance Ireland Loans (expanded & improved)

Microfinance Ireland (MFI), which is administering special COVID-19 loans, will receive an additional €13m in capital support, bringing its total lending capacity up to €20m for the coming period. The government has also announced a reduction in interest rates on these loans from 7.8% to 4.5%, which is very welcome. Loans can be sought up to €50k with no repayments required and no interest charged in the first six months. This reduced rate will be available to all micro-enterprises with fewer than 10 employees. Applications can be made through Local Enterprise Offices.

Trading Online Voucher Scheme (expanded)

An additional €3.3m is being provided to the Trading Online Voucher Scheme, bringing the total available to €5.6m. Micro-enterprises that have already successfully utilised a voucher can now apply for a second voucher of up to €2,500. The scheme is designed to help smaller businesses quickly establish a retail presence online with grants covering up to 90% of the cost for a subscription to low-cost online retailing platform solutions.

COVID-19 Retail Online Scheme (new)

A new €2m COVID-19 Retail Online Scheme is being made available exclusively for indigenous retail businesses with more than 10 staff. The scheme is available through Enterprise Ireland. The objective of the scheme is to help companies in the indigenous retail sector with a pre-existing online presence to respond to domestic and international consumer demand for a competitive online offer. Successful applicants will be awarded funding to support a maximum of 80% of the project costs. Grants ranging from €10k to €40k will be awarded under the scheme. This is a competitive application system with a call open date yet to be announced. Full details can be found on enterprise-ireland.com.

Sustaining Enterprise Fund (new)

A new Sustaining Enterprise Fund of up to €180m is specifically aimed at firms impacted by COVID-19 with 10 or more employees operating in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors that are "vulnerable but viable". The fund, operated by Enterprise Ireland, will provide repayable advances of up to €800k. These grants will only be repayable if and when a business returns to financial good health.

A business sustainment plan will need to be submitted by the company outlining the eventual stabilisation of the business and a return to viability.

Business Financial Planning Grant (new)

A €5k Business Financial Planning Grant has been introduced to help companies to develop a business sustainment plan and engage the services of an approved financial consultant to prepare a financial plan to secure the company in the short to medium term. The grant could help business owners to develop applications to access additional funding from several of the government schemes available. The grant is being administered by Enterprise Ireland.

LEAN Business Improvement Grant (new)

A new €2,500 LEAN Business Improvement Grant is being introduced to help companies access external advisor/trainer expertise to review and optimise operations at a time of crisis and identify the key measures needed to ensure continued viability. This grant is being administered by Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland.

Competitive Start Fund (expanded)

The €750k Competitive Start Fund is aimed at start-ups and early-stage companies in all sectors in manufacturing and internationally traded services. The call for proposals is open for three weeks through Enterprise Ireland, closing on 14 April 2020. The maximum support available is €50k for a 10% ordinary equity stake in the start-up company.

This is in addition to a new €30m seed and venture capital call for proposals to support early-stage and scaling firms through Enterprise Ireland under the Government’s €175m Seed and Venture Capital Initiative.

If you are looking to engage with your existing funder or a new lender about raising additional funding for your business, contact a member of our corporate finance team to find out how we can help. We have a well-established track record of helping SMEs secure funding lines and have developed strong and long-lasting relationships with all major lending institutions. We can guide you through the process to help ensure a positive outcome.
Naoise Cosgrove, Managing partner - Crowe Ireland
Naoise Cosgrove
Managing Partner
Corporate Finance
Partner, Corporate Recovery - Crowe Ireland
Aiden Murphy
Corporate Recovery
Gerard O'Reilly, Partner, Audit - Crowe Ireland
Gerard O'Reilly
Partner, Audit