COVID-19 SME Supports Update

SME Supports during COVID-19

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As the country slowly comes out of the public health restrictions, MABS wants to remind those who own an SME of the business supports available to them in 2021.

In April 2020, former Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys TD, announced a range of measures to support small and medium enterprises (SME) during the pandemic. These supports were then extended by Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar in Budget 2021. These supports extend to all SMEs and include Sole Traders, Partnerships and small limited companies. We have listed the COVID-19 business supports together with the latest updates so that you can identify the appropriate supports.

Click the link below to go to the support you'd like to read about or continue scrolling to read them all


Future Growth Loan Scheme

The Future Growth Loan Scheme makes lending available to SMEs & businesses with up to 499 employees and seeking finance for long-term investment. This could include responses to the impacts of COVID-19 on their business.

Loan terms range from 8 to 10 years, and loans of up to €500,000 can be unsecured. Interest-only repayments may be available at the start of the loans. The maximum interest rate is 4.5% APR.


Business Continuity Voucher (under 50 employees)

The Business Continuity Voucher, available through Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), is designed for all businesses that employ up to 50 people.

The voucher remains available throughout 2021. It is worth up to €2,500 in third-party consultancy costs and can be used by companies and sole traders to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The goal is to help companies make informed decisions about what immediate measures and remedial actions should be taken, to protect staff and sales.

If your application is successful, your Local Enterprise Office will select a qualified expert to work with you on your business continuity plans.


€2,500 Trading Online Voucher Scheme for microenterprises (under 10 employees)

The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) €2,500 Trading Online Voucher is a Government grant scheme designed to assist small businesses to get online. It offers financial assistance of up to €2,500, along with training and advice to help your business trade online.

The voucher is available for small businesses throughout 2021. The grant is available to cover 90% of the costs of an online initiative, and recipients can be awarded up to two grants of €2,500 to companies that have successfully implemented an initial grant offer. Participating in this Scheme can make the process of trading online much easier for businesses.


Business Financial Planning Grant from Enterprise Ireland (business with over 10 employees)

A Business Financial Planning Grant is available from Enterprise Ireland up to a maximum value of €5,000. The grant is available to assist companies in developing a Business Sustainment Plan and engaging the approved financial consultant's services.


LEAN Business Improvement Grant from Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland (businesses with over 10 employees)

The LEAN Business Process Improvement Grant is used to support short to medium term company projects designed to develop management capability, drive company efficiencies, and business process improvements. Improvement projects must address a clear business need and deliver a positive impact on your business. Projects must also demonstrate the potential to develop the knowledge and skills of the company's management team.

The Business Process Improvement Grant can be used to support one of the following assignments;

  • Lean Plus Assignment,
  • E-Marketing Improvement Assignment: or
  • GreenPlus Assignment.

SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Loan Scheme

The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI)COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme is available through AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank. Approval of loans are subject to the banks own credit policies and procedures. You must apply to the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI). Businesses cannot complete a loan application until they have received their eligibility letter from the SBCI.

Loan Features

  • Loan amounts of between €25,000 to €1.5m per eligible enterprise (see the State Aid section below for further details).
  • Maximum interest rate of 4%.
  • Loan terms ranging from 1 year to 3 years.
  • Loans unsecured up to €500,000.
  • Optional interest-only repayments may be available at the start of the loans.
  • The loan amount and term is dependent on the loan purpose.

Microfinance Ireland COVID-19 Business Loan (businesses with under 10 employees)

The COVID-19 Business Loan from Microfinance Ireland (MFI) is a government initiative to support small businesses (Sole Trader, Partnership or Limited Company) through the current period of uncertainty and protect job creation or sustainment in Ireland.

To be eligible for the MFI COVID-19 Business loan your business;

  • Should be impacted by the pandemic resulting in a reduction of 15% or more in actual or projected turnover or profit, and
  • Should have difficulty in accessing finance from commercial lending providers.

In addition, Local Enterprise Offices in every county provide a range of business supports for micro-enterprises including business continuity and preparedness advisory supports connected to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Loan Features

  • Loans from €5,000 – €50,000
  • Supports businesses who have been impacted negatively by coronavirus in Ireland
  • Loan terms typically up to 3 years
  • First 6 months – 0% Interest & Zero repayments
  • Reduced interest rate 4.5% APR for LEO/Local Development Committee applications and 5.5% APR for Direct applications
  • No fees/no hidden charges
  • Fixed repayments/no penalty for early repayment

Enterprise Ireland - Sustaining Enterprise Fund (business with over 10 employees)

The Sustaining Enterprise Fund was established to provide manufacturing and internationally traded services companies with capital to help stabilise and rebuild their businesses during COVID-19.

The fund's purpose is to support companies that have experienced a reduction of 15% or more in actual or projected turnover or profit for the year. They will have a significant increase in costs as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The fund is available throughout 2021.

To deliver on this, the objectives of the fund are to;

  • Ensure eligible companies have access to necessary liquidity in the short-term; and
  • Sustain the business so that the company can return to viability and contribute to the recovery of the Irish economy.
  • Loan Features

    • Funding of up to €800,000 available;
    • Funding will be in the form of repayable advances or equity investment;
    • Funding to be repaid subject to the project objectives being achieved;
    • An annual administration fee of 4%.

    The advance payment to be repaid as follows:

    • 3-year grace period;
    • Repayment by the end of year 5, on successful achievement of the project objective.

SME Credit Guarantee Scheme

The SME Credit Guarantee scheme is available as support to SMEs throughout 2021. The SME Credit Guarantee Scheme aims to encourage additional lending to SMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.) The Government provides a partial Government guarantee (currently 80%) to banks against losses on qualifying loans to eligible SMEs. Note, the Credit Guarantee Scheme does not substitute for conventional lending that would otherwise have taken place.

To help SMEs impacted by COVID-19 related issues to have access to sufficient working capital, the Government has repurposed the Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS) to provide counter guarantees to the banks, mitigating credit risk or need for collateral.

The Credit Guarantee Scheme can be used by businesses to obtain loans to support changes they need to make to their business in response to COVID-19.

The Scheme is targeted towards companies who are unable to access credit because of 3 distinct barriers to lending;

  • Inadequate collateral
  • Novel business market, sector or technology which is perceived by lenders as higher risk under current credit risk evaluation practices
  • Need for refinancing caused by the exit of an SMEs lender from the Irish market

Loan Features

  • Facilities of €10,000 up to €1m
  • Terms of up to 7 years
  • Term Loans, Demand Loans and Performance Bonds
  • You may be able to avail of between a three to six-month interest-only payment period (depending on the total loan duration)
  • The Scheme is operated on behalf of the Department by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and is available from the participating lenders (AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank).

You can contact your local office here, call the MABS Helpline on 0761 07 2000 or WhatsApp 086 035 3141 , Monday to Friday, from 9am to 8pm.

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