New Low Cost Covid-19 Loan Scheme open to food businesses

New Low Cost Covid-19 Loan Scheme open to food businesses

A further loan scheme to help SMEs access low-cost finance has been launched, recognising that many of them are still getting back on their feet after what has been an incredibly challenging few years.

It was launched by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie Mc Conalogue TD, and the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe TD.

The COVID-19 Loan Scheme (‘CLS’) is a state-backed loan scheme, offering SMEs, including farmers, fishers, food businesses and small mid-caps, loans of between €25,000 and up to €1,500,000, with terms of one to six years and unsecured up to €500,000.

Finance provided is competitively priced and some refinance can be availed of to help with any existing short-term credit a business may have.

The Tánaiste said: “There are currently more people employed in Ireland than ever before in the history of the state. That would have been unimaginable a few months ago even. However, many businesses are still getting back on their feet after what has been an incredibly challenging period. I know Putin’s war on Ukraine has caused more uncertainty.

“These State-backed loan schemes are working well. The existing Covid Credit Guarantee Scheme helped more than 10,000 SMEs access low-cost credit. This successor scheme will give SMEs, including farmers, fishers and food businesses, the option to access really competitively priced loans, should they need to avail of that option, in addition to the other help that is available. It’s about giving SMEs as many options as possible.”

 Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie Mc Conalogue TD said: “I am pleased that the COVID-19 Loan Scheme will be available to farm families, fishers and food businesses. The resilience shown by the agri-food sector during the pandemic was remarkable as it continued to produce high quality produce for consumers at home and abroad. This State-backed source of finance will complement other measures introduced by my Department to alleviate the considerable impact of the pandemic on the agri-food sector.”

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe TD said: “The Government is committed to supporting our SME sector. Alongside the Brexit Impact Loan Scheme, the COVID-19 Loan Scheme will ensure that businesses continue to have access to longer term unsecured lending as they deal with the impact of the pandemic. As well as working capital, loans can be used for investment and I urge businesses to exploit such investment opportunities to grow, develop and embrace digital and climate transition.”

June Butler, CEO of SBCI said: “The new COVID-19 Loan Scheme will support SMEs throughout Ireland as they continue to deal with the economic effects of the pandemic. The SBCI is delighted to add this guarantee loan scheme to its range of SME-friendly finance options and enable even more SMEs get access to low-cost, flexible finance.

“As the economy transitions into the post-pandemic phase, this new Scheme will be of significant benefit to Irish SMEs during the recovery period and beyond. Offering discounted State-backed lending, this Scheme will continue to help Irish businesses prosper and grow sustainably into the future.”

The Scheme is delivered by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI), through participating lenders and information on the application process can be found on the SBCI website at

The CLS is in response to the required closure of the COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme (CCGS) at the end of June 2022, which is a consequence of the cessation of the European Commission’s COVID-19 State-Aid Framework at this time. As of end of May 2022 the CCGS had helped 10,357 SMEs in Ireland with access to finance of €730.2 million.

The CLS benefits from support from the European Investment Bank Group through the European Commission’s “European Guarantee Fund”.