SBCI supporting Midlands businesses return to growth

3 December 2015: Businesses in the Midlands should not miss out on €800m in State-backed low-cost loans and financing options that have already benefited over 3,200 SMEs across Ireland, the Chief Executive of the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) told a special small business event in Athlone this morning.

Nick Ashmore, Chief Executive of the SBCI said: “Access to finance plays a key role in driving economic recovery and job creation, and the SBCI is committed to ensuring that SMEs across the country are armed with the knowledge of how and where to access lower cost funding.

“We have already provided over €110 million in low-cost loans to over 3,200 SMEs – with loans ranging in size from €1,200 to €4 million. However to date the Midlands region has drawn down a lower amount in loans than elsewhere in the country.

We came to Athlone today to tell businesses throughout the Midlands that we have €800 million to lend to SMEs and that we want more businesses in the region to benefit from the loans we offer.”

Today’s SBCI event was attended by more than 80 business owners, local and government supports representatives. The event was aimed at driving awareness of the lower cost finance options available for Irish SMEs and providing business owners with the practical knowledge of how to access this funding.

Attendees were told of the four lenders which currently offer SBCI loans or finance options:

  • AIB – which offers working capital, investment, agriculture and refinancing loans,
  • Bank of Ireland – which offers working capital, investment, agriculture and refinancing loans,
  • Finance Ireland – which offers loans for vehicle, machinery and equipment leasing; and
  • Merrion Fleet – which offers loans for car fleet financing.

Further details of the financing available from the SBCI can be accessed at www.sbci.gov.ie.

The event was opened by the Chief Executive of Westmeath County Council, Pat Gallagher. Accountants Russell Brennan Keane and the Athlone Chamber of Commerce supported the event and joined a panel of speakers discussing business funding and investment, the practicalities of applying for finance, and bank and non-bank lender requirements from applicants.

Mr Ashmore added “We have had a great start in 2015 and we are encouraged by a very healthy pipeline of loans currently in the application phase.

“In 2015, the SBCI has attended over 100 events around Ireland exhibiting and presenting to thousands of Irish SMEs. Today we were delighted to host our first business event and the SBCI board and management in attendance welcomed the opportunity to network with Athlone and midlands-based businesses assisting our understanding of the needs of local business owners.

“We are looking forward to a busy 2016 with plans to continue to drive competition in the SME lending market and increase awareness of the benefits to Irish SMEs in accessing lower cost finance.”