€300 million Future Growth Loan Scheme launched

Three ministers have launched the Future Growth Loan Scheme to allow for the roll-out of €300 million in funding to eligible Irish small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including farmers.

Unveiled by Ministers Heather Humphreys, Michael Creed and Paschal Donohoe, it was announced that businesses will be able to apply for loan eligibility through the SBCI from April 17.

Three finance providers – AIB, Bank of Ireland and KBC – have agreed to participate in the scheme and negotiations are ongoing with another two.

The Government is urging businesses to use the coming three weeks to start preparing their proposals for long-term capital investment.

The funding allocations for the Future Growth Loan Scheme are €37 million from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and €25 million from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Of the total budget, €42 million relates to expenditure in 2018 with a further €6 million allocated in 2019 and the remaining €14 million over a third tranche.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s share of funding ensures that at least 40% of the fund will be available to farmers and agri-food and seafood businesses.

Minister Creed said: “This is a long-awaited source of finance for young and new entrant farmers, especially the cohort who do not have high levels of security. It will also serve smaller-scale farmers, who often do not have the leverage to negotiate for more favourable terms with their banking institution.

“Along with products such as Milk Flex, this scheme will form part of a comprehensive investment package for farmers.”

Loan amounts from €100,000 (€50,000 for primary agriculture) up to a maximum of €3 million can be drawn down on loan terms of  between eight and 10 years.

Loans less than €500,000 will be unsecured; while interest rates of 4.5% for loans up to €249,999 and 3.5% and less for loans greater than or equal to €250,000 will apply.

According to the Department of Business, loans can be used for: investment in tangible or intangible assets for the purpose of process and organisational innovation; or investment in tangible and intangible assets on agricultural holdings linked to primary agricultural production.

“Food companies have identified long-term investment finance of up to 10 years as a critical need which is currently unavailable in Ireland. I am pleased that the Government has been able to deliver this product and its effects will be felt all along the food production chain from primary producer to processor.

This scheme will be available to eligible Irish SMEs including farmers and the agri-food and seafood sectors, to support strategic long-term investment in a post Brexit environment.

The new EIF support for business investment in Ireland is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments