The Future Growth Loan Scheme makes available a fund of up to €300 million of loans available for terms of eight to ten years. I am acutely aware that small and microenterprises can face particular difficulty in accessing appropriate finance. My Department has, in partnership with the Department of Finance, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and the European Investment Fund, developed this scheme to support these firms in this time of Brexit uncertainty.
The scheme is also open to businesses in the primary agriculture and seafood sectors. Loans offered under the scheme are for terms are longer than is typically available in the market and support businesses as they seek to make strategic, long-term investment. Finance provided under the scheme is also competitively priced and has favourable terms, for example, no security is required for loans up to €500,000.
Loans to businesses under the scheme can be used to fund investments in equipment, machinery, buildings and associated overhead costs for organisational and/or process innovation. Loans to primary agriculture under the scheme can be used to fund investment in tangible and intangible assets on agricultural holdings linked to primary agricultural production.
The Future Growth Loan Scheme features a two-stage application process. Applications for eligibility under the scheme are made through the SBCI website. The SBCI assesses the applications and successful applicants are issued an eligibility reference number.
Eligible businesses may then apply for a loan under the scheme with one of the participating finance providers using the eligibility reference number. Approval of loans under this scheme is subject to the finance providers’ own credit policies and procedures.
As of 25 November, there have been 2,149 applications for eligibility under the scheme, of which 2,017 have been approved by SBCI. 535 firms have been approved loans by Bank of Ireland, KBC and Ulster Bank, to a total value of €101.2 million. AIB recently began offering loans under the scheme and have a pipeline of applications from SBCI.