Announced as part of the government’s response to assist businesses effected by the crisis in Ukraine, the Ukraine Credit Guarantee Scheme facilitates up to €1.2 billion in lending to eligible businesses.
The scheme offers a partial government guarantee (80%) to participating finance providers against losses on qualifying finance agreements to eligible SMEs, small mid-caps and primary producers.
It is designed to incentivise participating finance providers to continue to play their role in supporting the availability of additional liquidity to Irish businesses.
Loans under the scheme range from €10,000 to €1 million, for terms of up to six years. Financing will be offered through a range of products, including term loans, working capital loans and overdrafts. Loans of up to €250,000 under the scheme are available unsecured (except where this is a requirement of the product feature, as in the case of asset finance, invoice discount facilities, and so on).
The scheme is operated by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) through participating finance providers.
Businesses eligible for the scheme
This scheme is available to eligible SME and small Mid-Cap businesses, including primary producers (businesses engaged in farming and fishing), established in Ireland.
- Businesses must declare that costs have increased by a minimum of 10% on their 2020 figures.
- Businesses must declare that the loan is being sought specifically as a result of difficulties being experienced arising from the crisis in Ukraine.
- The scheme is available to viable businesses only.
- The loan being sought must be a new loan, it cannot be used to refinance existing debt.
The definition of small mid-caps can be found here: InnovFin SME Guarantee (PDF, 230KB)
The full details of the eligibility criteria are available through the SBCI website.
How businesses can apply for the scheme
The Ukraine Credit Guarantee Scheme features a two-stage application process:
- Applications for eligibility under the scheme are made through the SBCI website. The SBCI will assess the applications and those successful will be issued an eligibility reference number.
- Apply for a loan under the scheme with one of the participating finance providers using the eligibility reference number.
Finance providers participating in the scheme
Bank of Ireland joined the scheme at launch in January 2023, with AIB joining in June 2023. 13 Credit Unions from across the country as well as Capitalflow (a non-bank lender) joined the scheme in early October 2023. Other finance providers have applied to participate, and officials are working to bring lending to market through these providers as soon as is possible.
A full list of a participating finance providers can be found on the SBCI website.
Deferred payment option
You may be able to avail of an optional interest and/or capital moratorium for up to a maximum of 90 days, but this will depend on the finance provider’s assessment of an application.
State aid basis for the scheme
Loans approved under this scheme up to 31 December 2023 were subject to the rules of the State Aid Temporary Crisis Framework introduced in response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
Loans approved from 1 January 2024 are subject to De Minimis State Aid rules.
The Ukraine Credit Guarantee Scheme will be available until 31 December 2024.
Loans under the scheme may be used to underpin a range of different lending products depending on the finance provider.
However, loans under the scheme must be used for:
- working capital/liquidity (examples include paying for stock, wages, other overheads)
- investment (examples include re-fitting premises, buying new equipment)
The Temporary Crisis Framework, under which this scheme has been developed, does not permit the refinancing of existing debt.
Interest rate on loans under the scheme
The Ukraine Credit Guarantee Scheme provides an 80% state-backed guarantee for the different lending products to be offered through the participating finance providers.
Interest rates on these products will vary depending on individual characteristics such as the size of the loan, the tenor of the loan and the profile of each business. However, finance providers will offer a reduced interest rate compared to similar lending and this reduction will be stated on each loan agreement.
A participating enterprise (the borrower) will be required to pay a premium.
The premium will range from 0.29% - 0.68% for SMEs, depending on the term of the loan, and from 0.73% - 1.55% for small Mid-Caps depending on the term of the loan.
The premium will be collected by the finance provider as part of the repayment of the loan.
Limits on the amount of funding
The total amount of Ukraine Credit Guarantee Scheme funding per participating enterprise shall not exceed:
- 15% of the beneficiary’s average total annual turnover over the last three closed accounting periods; or 15% of the beneficiary’s average total annual turnover over the last two closed accounting periods where two closed accounting periods are available; or 15% of the beneficiary’s average total annual turnover over the last closed accounting periods where only one closed accounting period is available
- 50% of energy costs over the 12 months preceding the month when the application for aid is submitted
Sectors not eligible for the scheme
A full list of sectors which are eligible and ineligible for the scheme is available on the SBCI website.
Sole trader eligibility
Sole traders are eligible under the terms of the scheme.
If a loan application is refused by a finance provider
In the event that a business has made a formal loan application to one of the participating finance providers and has been refused, the applicant must first make an appeal to the finance provider. If this internal appeal is unsuccessful, then an appeal may be made to the Credit Review Office, if the lender is a participating bank.
Full information on the application process is available from the Credit Review Office.
The Data Protection Notice for the scheme is available here: Loan Schemes: Data Protection Statements
Ukraine Credit Guarantee Scheme Performance Reports