The Government has confirmed that it will extend the €2 billion Credit Guarantee Scheme, with the scheme remaining open for applications until the end of the year.
The scheme is the biggest ever state-backed loan guarantee in Ireland and offers an 80% Government guarantee to participating lenders to provide Irish businesses with access to low interest loans.
Over 5,000 businesses have applied for the scheme so far.
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar said the extension will allow vulnerable but viable businesses get back on their feet.
"The majority of businesses using the scheme to date have been those with under ten employees, in the retail, accommodation, construction and agriculture sectors.
"This scheme is just one of the ways we are helping, there is a package of grants, wage subsidies, tax relief, advice and training available to businesses who are struggling during this really difficult time," said Mr Varadkar.
Loans provided under the scheme range from €10,000 to €1m for terms of up to five and a half years.
Loans under €250,000 do not require any personal guarantees or collateral.
Interest rates will vary depending on the loan, however they will be lower than would otherwise be available in the market.
Since the start of 2021, 19 credit unions and three non-bank lenders have also joined the scheme as finance providers, including Linked Finance.
The Government said three further non-bank lenders are nearing readiness in deploying funds through the scheme.
Minister for Finance Pascal Donohoe said the Government is committed to making sure that SMEs have the right tools and supports.
"In particular, I welcome the recent expansion in the on-lenders to beyond the retail banks, including 19 credit unions spread between three groups and non-bank lenders.
"This extension means that more SMEs will be able to access credit from an increased diversity of sources in both bank and non-bank credit," said Minister Donohoe.
Niall O'Grady, CEO of Linked Finance, said the extended scheme will provide more businesses with the opportunity to benefit from it as they look to recharge their businesses coming out of the pandemic.
"This gives SMEs the opportunity of ensuring all the work they have done to survive the Covid challenges is not lost or wasted," he added.
Linked Finance was the first non-bank lender approved under the scheme in January.
Niall O'Grady said the company had seen a huge response from SMEs and it has already funded over €7m of loans to SMEs across the country.