The European Investment Fund and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland have signed a new deal aimed at supporting €100m of lending to SMEs in Ireland over the next three years. 

The new COSME deal, which will enable the SBCI to offer risk-sharing on its loans for the first time, is guaranteed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe.

As a result of the partnership with the EIF announced today, the SBCI will offer lenders risk-sharing in addition to its existing low-cost loans. This will make it easier for lenders to lend to SMEs in sectors that otherwise may struggle with getting credit.

The new agreement will increase competition, improve choice and bring lower rates to the SME lending market.

COSME is the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, which will run from 2014 to 2020 with a total budget of €2.3 billion. 

At least 60% of the programme will be devoted to easing access to finance for SMEs in Europe.

SBCI's CEO Nick Ashmore said that the new deal marks an exciting new phase for the SBCI, enabling it for the first time to bring new risk sharing products in the form of guarantees to the Irish market. 

"It will help us deliver the Agriculture Cash Flow Support Loan Scheme in early 2017 and crucially it will allow us to develop new ways for SMEs to get easier access to finance", Mr Ashmore stated.