What We Do

Access to Finance

Our role is to maintain a key focus on the needs of small business and entrepreneurs and to ensure that the interests of Irish SMEs are taken into account in the development and execution of policy initiatives at national and international level. We provide a Departmental contact point for SMEs and their Representative bodies in relation to all aspects of enterprise policy.

National Level

Access to Credit

It remains the responsibility of the banking system to provide credit to businesses. However, Government is prepared to offer some additional targeted supports where there are market failures.

SME Credit Guarantee Scheme

The SME Credit Guarantee Scheme was launched on Wednesday 18th October 2012 by the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister Bruton. The Scheme has been introduced by the Government, in the context of its work in restructuring the Irish banking system, and to assist viable SMEs on the margins of commercial lending decisions in accessing credit. It provides a 75% State guarantee to banks against losses on qualifying loans to micro, small and medium enterprises with growth and job creation potential. Bank of Ireland, AIB and Ulster Bank are participating in the Scheme.

The Scheme will facilitate up to €150 million of additional lending to eligible SMEs per annum. The Guarantee Scheme is intended to address specific market failures that inhibit bank lending to some commercially viable micro, small and medium enterprises, by providing a 75% State guarantee to banks against losses on qualifying loans to firms with growth and job creation potential.

The precise requirement could be lower or higher than €150 million, depending on SME credit needs and economic conditions over the duration of the Scheme. Take- up of the Scheme will be closely monitored.

Microenterprise Loan Fund

The Microenterprise Loan Fund was launched on the 27th September 2012 and will improve access to credit for microenterprises and facilitate the growth and expansion of viable businesses from all industry sectors across the country, which have been refused access to credit from the banks.

The Fund will provide support in the form of loans for up to €25,000, available to start-up, newly established, or growing microenterprises employing less than 10 people, with viable business propositions, that do not meet the conventional risk criteria applied by banks. The potential viability of the business proposal will be the dominant factor in all credit decisions.

Credit Review Office

The Minister for Finance is calling for suggestions from members of the public on what more the Credit Review Office can do to ensure SMEs are getting the support on bank lending they require. Please visit the Department of Finance website for more information.

Small Business Finance Website

The Small Business Finance website is a joint initiative by the Irish Banking Federation (IBF) and Chambers Ireland. Supported by additional content from sponsors Eversheds, Mazars and Energia, the Small Business Finance website is an open resource for small businesses of all backgrounds and at various stages of development on business planning and financial management.

Advisory Group on Small Business

We provide the secretariat to the Advisory Group on Small Business. The broad terms of reference for the Advisory Group for Small Business are to facilitate structured and regular dialogue between the Minister for Small Business and representatives of the small business sector on issues of concern to that sector on how to promote the economic development and job potential of the sector having regard to the current restraints imposed on the national finances and to recommend action points and follow up. Membership of the Small Business Advisory Group includes entrepreneurs, nominees from the main small business representative bodies and officials from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation as well as from the state enterprise support agencies.

The Advisory Group for Small Business submitted a broad range of recommendations, focused on the small business sector, to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation for consideration in the Action Plan for Jobs process. A number of these recommendations were selected for inclusion in the Action Plan for Jobs 2013. The Advisory Group for Small Business continues to input the concerns of the Small Business sector into the Action Plan for Jobs process.

We also provide Departmental representation on relevant national and international committees and working groups (EU, OECD etc). 

Assistance to individual small firms is not undertaken by the section. Advice and financial assistance is provided by the enterprise agencies.


The EUGO network of Points of Single Contact assists business to provide services in the EU by providing information and assistance with completing the relevant administrative procedures required. Irish based businesses can access information through the relevant Point of Single Contact on the procedures required for doing business in the EU. (e.g. an Irish business can contact the Hungarian Point of Single Contact if they wish to provide services in Hungary).

The Irish National Point of Single Contact website contains more information on this.

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

The Unit also has responsibility for OECD initiatives in relation to enterprise and entrepreneurship policy including, in particular, the OECD ‘Working Party on SMEs and Entrepreneurship’ and ‘Local Economic and Employment Development’ (LEED) Programme.

State Financial Support for SMEs in Ireland

For information on supports available to SMEs in Ireland please see the Supporting SME tool at www.actionplanforjobs.ie which sets out the full range of Government financial and other supports.

E-Day Friday 19th September 2014 

Friday 19 September 2014 is the date from which all Government Departments and Public Bodies stopped sending and receiving cheques to or from businesses in Ireland. It is called e-Day and it is part of the National Payments Plan. The particular focus of e-Day is to encourage SMEs to migrate from cheque usage as they are either issuers or receivers of more than 60% of all cheques in Ireland. One of the prime motivations behind e-Day is to help businesses, particularly small businesses, to reduce the costs that are incurred through the use of cheques for making payments. The National Payments Plan (NPP) has identified potential savings in the order of €1 billion per annum that could be saved in Ireland by achieving a significant reduction in cash and cheque usage in favour of electronic payments.

There is also a strong correlation between late payments and cheque usage. Business representative groups involved in the national payments plan process, including Chambers Ireland, ISME and SFA are all supportive of e-Day as they recognise the benefits that will ultimately accrue to their members. The SME Policy Unit of the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation plays a central role in tackling Ireland’s late payment culture and improving cash-flow for SMEs.

Businesses will have to switch to card or e-Payments – the more efficient, secure way to pay Government and public bodies. Talk to your bank about e-Day. They can help you make the switch to e-Payments – the more efficient secure way to pay Government and public bodies and more information can be found on the Central Banks website.

Offices and Agencies

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