AIB has become the latest bank to announce a package of measures it says are aimed at helping its small business customers.

The bank is extending €1 billion in credit to small businesses to support business expansion and new investment. This includes a €200m start-up fund, which is open to both existing and new customers.

AIB also said it would work with business customers to ease the pressure on 'viable' businesses by restructuring loan deals over longer terms and making 'interest only' options available for up to two years. The bank also said it would take up the maximum allocation of funds for small businesses from the European Investment Bank.

AIB has said there will be no increase in its transaction fees during 2009 and has also lowered its one-year fixed rate mortgage for first-time buyers from 3.25% to 2.99%.

Monday saw a promise of €250 million for small business from Bank of Ireland. Tuesday brought €1 billion for the sector through Bank of Scotland Ireland.

And yesterday, Anglo Irish Bank pledged a fund of €500,000 to help small business through economic hard times.