Irish firms drew down €172m in lower cost loans from the government’s SME financing fund in its first 10 months in operation.
Some 4,620 Irish SMEs received an average of €37,000 in funding from the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) to the end of December 2015.
The loans — which businesses apply for through SBCI’s range of on-lending partners — supported 17,000 Irish jobs last year, according to the fund.
In total, SBCI had committed €751m to SMEs through its five on-lending partners AIB, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank, Merrion Fleet Management and Finance Ireland by the end of 2015.
SBCI chief executive Nick Ashmore said he was pleased with the results contained in its 2015 economic impact report and added that it is looking to expand its range of funding partners.
“These initial figures show that the more choice and competition generated in the SME lending sector, the more we can help our indigenous businesses grow and support jobs and so we hope to build on this initial impact and further support Irish economic activity with an active pipeline of new lenders and funders in 2016,” Mr Ashmore said.
SBCI currently gets its funding from three partners — the European Investment Bank, Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and German bank KfW - which it then lends to SMEs via the likes of the Irish domestic banks.
The fund was established by the government to provide lower cost funding to SMEs hamstrung by the sky high rates on offer in the market.
SBCI loans of up to €250,000 were on average 1.5% cheaper than those available on the market in 2015.
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