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Investment Plan for Europe: EIF and the SBCI sign an agreement to provide €100 for Irish SMEs

12 Dec 2016

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) have signed the first COSME agreement in Ireland. This transaction is guaranteed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe.

The COSME EFSI counter-guarantee agreement will allow SBCI to support EUR 100 million of loans to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Ireland over the next three years. The loans will be provided as a result of a guarantee from EIF under the COSME programme with financial backing from the European Commission. The agreement will make it possible for SBCI to support additional attractive loans to around 2,000 SMEs through risk sharing initiatives.

Commenting on the signature, EIF Deputy Chief Executive, Roger Havenith said:

“SMEs continue to be drivers of economic growth in Ireland and the agreement signed today will help to create jobs and new opportunities in the country. Via its on-lending banks, SBCI will be able to provide EUR 100 million to over 2,000 SMEs in Ireland. I am also pleased to be in Dublin for the opening of the EIB Group Irish office today, which confirms the commitment of the Group to Ireland and the local Irish SME market”.

European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, said:

“Supporting SMEs is a key element of our strategy to boost jobs and growth, particularly in rural areas. Today’s agreement with the SBCI shows that the Investment Plan is playing a crucial role in delivering new financing solutions for smaller Irish businesses, allowing them to expand and create jobs. I hope that the EIB Group’s decision to open an office in Dublin will facilitate many more such agreements in the months and years ahead, especially in the agri-sector.”

SBCI CEO Nick Ashmore said:

“Today’s signing marks an exciting new phase for the SBCI enabling us for the first time to bring new risk sharing products in the form of guarantees to the Irish market. It will help us deliver the Agriculture Cash Flow Support Loan Scheme in early 2017 and crucially it will allow us to develop new ways for SMEs to get easier access to finance”.

EIF Deputy Chief Executive, Roger Havenith, arrived in Ireland today to sign the new EFSI agreement with SBCI and to attend the opening of the EIB Group’s Irish office in Dublin. The EIB Group supported the launch of SBCI in 2014 and the opening of the new office will now give local entrepreneurs a direct contact point in Ireland for EIF and EIB financing solutions. Entrepreneurs will be able to access finance directly from SBCI’s on-lending banks in Ireland.

About the 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 to 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 the 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;

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.


COSME is the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) running from 2014 to 2020 with a total budget of EUR 2.3 billion. At least 60% of the programme will be devoted to easing access to finance for SMEs in Europe, with two financial instruments. The COSME Loan Guarantee Facility supports guarantees and counter-guarantees to financial institutions to help them provide more loans and lease finance to SMEs. This facility also includes securitisation of SME debt finance portfolios. The COSME programme also invests through the COSME Equity Facility for Growth in equity funds that provide risk capital to SMEs mainly in the expansion and growth stages. The COSME programme builds on the success of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) (2007-2013) which helped to mobilise almost EUR 21 billion of loans and EUR 3 billion of venture capital to over 383,000 SMEs in Europe.

Businesses can contact selected financial institutions in their country to access EU financing: http://www.access2finance.eu/

About the Investment Plan for Europe

The Investment Plan focuses on strengthening European investments to create jobs and growth. It does so by making smarter use of new and existing financial resources, removing obstacles to investment, providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects. The Investment Plan is already showing results. The projects and agreements approved for financing under the EFSI so far are expected to mobilise EUR 154 billion in total investments across 27 Member States and to support almost 377 000 SMEs. On 14 September 2016, the Commission proposed extending the EFSI by increasing its firepower and duration as well as reinforcing its strengths. Find the latest EFSI figures by sector and by country here. For more info, see the FAQs.

Building on this success, the European Commission on 14 September 2016 proposed extending the EFSI by increasing its firepower and duration as well as reinforcing its strengths. For more information see the FAQs.