The availability of and access to sufficient working capital is critical for the success of any business. Trade financing and credit insurance products can help SMEs by bridging the gap between exporters’ and importers’ differing expectations about when payment should be made.
Under the 2017 Action Plan for Jobs, a High Level Group chaired by my Department was established to progress the development of an export finance strategy for Ireland. The group's work led to the development of the Brexit Loan Scheme, which provides low cost working capital at favourable terms and conditions to businesses impacted by Brexit.
My Department will work together with the Department of Finance to build on the learnings from this Scheme in further achieving the availability of appropriate financing supports for exporting Irish businesses.
In addition, SBCI has been working with non-bank finance providers to improve the availability of market solutions for SMEs with regard to trade finance options. For example, a new trade finance product was developed by Bibby Financial Services in collaboration with SBCI making available €70 million in funding to Irish SMEs. The new product allows businesses to buy, receive and sell goods before needing to pay for them and it is ideally suited to Irish SMEs needing to bridge the gap between paying suppliers and receiving payment from customers.
While the nature of the UK's departure from the EU still remains to be determined, Brexit continues to represent a significant challenge for businesses in Ireland. Supports such as the Brexit Loan Scheme are designed to provide short-term finance and with Brexit on the horizon, investment in working capital diversification has never been more important.