Help finding business loans from banks and non-banks
From construction to culture, from beauty to baking, from tourism to technology, the SME scene seems to be thriving in post-recession Ireland.
The country’s 145,000 SMEs employ 70% of the total workforce, and the air of optimism among business owners bodes well for the future of small business in Ireland.
Yet despite the positive trend, entrepreneurs are hitting huge challenges when it comes to accessing business finance. To explain: nearly half of businesses (45%) applying for loans are rejected by lenders, potentially having an impact on SME growth. Despite this, bank lending remains the mainstay of small business loans in Ireland.
Although Irish small business might not have the same broad choice as UK SMEs when it comes to business funding, there are a few finance providers in the Republic of Ireland. See below for both bank and non-bank lenders, and grant-givers:
Small businesses loans in Ireland
Allied Irish Bank – Startup loans to a maximum of €100,000 are offered by AIB to SMEs up to 3 years old. Applicants need to be sole traders, partnerships and limited companies – including agricultural enterprises.
Bank of Ireland (BoI) – Another traditional lender is the BoI, which provides business loans to small businesses up to €300,000. If a loan of €100,000 is enough for your needs, the bank takes applications over the phone.
Microfinance Ireland (MFI) – Focusing on businesses employing less than 10 people, MFI is providing loans from the government’s Microenterprise Loan Fund. If you’re a sole trader, limited company or partnership with a turnover of €2 million or less, you can apply for unsecured loans between €2,000 and €25,000. Applicants will need to have been turned down by a bank and provide a tax clearance certificate.
Local Enterprise Office (LEO) – Local LEOs work in partnership with Microfinance Ireland to offer unsecured loans for micro businesses between €2,000 and €25,000. Paid over 3 to 5 years, the money is open to all industries looking to fund recruitment, equipment, machinery, stock, among other purposes.
Irish Film Board (IFB) – If you’re in film production you could be eligible for loans to support screenplay development, animation development, international TV drama development, among other elements of production. The applicants need to be writers, directors and producers – they can secure up to €100,000 if a matching development loan is in place.
Grants for Irish businesses
Business grants are available from organizations including Intertrade – a north-south government agency tasked with developing cross-border trade. The money is for companies to increase exports or to step up innovation.
One of the funds is Acumen, which provides 50% match-funding for recruiting sales staff working on cross-border business. Fusion gives 50% support for graduate recruitment for innovation projects, and the Elevate scheme for micro enterprises exploring cross-border trade opportunities.