Just 16% of small and medium sized businesses have a plan for Brexit.
That is according to a survey by the Department of Business and Enterprise which suggests three quarters of SMEs will be hit by the UK’s exit from the EU.
The government has signed an agreement today to fund a €300m loan fund for small businesses affected by Brexit.
Business Minister Heather Humphreys says it is important for businesses to plan for the fallout.
She said: "As part of the qualifying criteria, 15% of their business must be impacted directly by Brexit.
"You have a lot of businesses in the food industry and in fact 40% of this loan fund is targeted at the food industry so they will know themselves whether Brexit impacts on them or not.
In last October’s budget, €14m was secured by the then Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, together with €9m by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, for the €23m for the Brexit Loan Scheme.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s share of funding ensures that at least 40% of the fund will be available to food businesses.
The scheme is supported by the European Investment Bank Group, the European Commission and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland.
The signing of the counter guarantee agreement means that the total amount of €23m can be leveraged to provide €300m to Irish businesses affected by Brexit.
The Scheme will be open to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees from March 2018, and has the potential to benefit over 5,000 companies.
At today’s signing, Minister Humphreys also released the findings of her Department’s second survey of SMEs about the impacts of Brexit on their businesses.
Speaking at the signing, Minister Humphreys asked businesses to start planning now.
“The first step is to identify the lead person in your organisation who can assess potential impacts and scenarios and write your Brexit Contingency Plan.”
The B&A survey asked businesses about how they are responding to Brexit, and what financial supports they need in order to respond.
The survey found that almost half of the firms were not investing in their businesses. When asked why, Brexit uncertainty is cited as a key reason.
Furthermore, 21% of medium sized businesses have postponed at least one investment decision in reaction to Brexit.
Minister Humphreys said: “It’s time for Irish businesses to start planning and preparing for Brexit. The Brexit Loan Scheme will provide financing support at lower interest rates and with lower collateral requirements.
"I encourage businesses to use this financing to help improve their operational competitiveness, to innovate or to diversify their trade footprint as they prepare to face Brexit over the next year and beyond.”
- Digital Desk