A new business funding matching tool that aims to improve access to finance for SME businesses here has been launched today by ISME, in partnership with Swoop Funding.

ISME said its new "Finance Finder" tool is a one-stop-shop for funding solutions for Irish small and medium sized enterprises.

The partnership between ISME and Swoop is the first of its kind in Ireland and provides funding options for businesses within minutes.

For a start-up or a business looking to expand, improve cashflow, refinance debt, buy a business, purchase property, stock or invest in a new market, the Finance Finder will provide easy access to the funding opportunities available to them.

The platform can also be used to secure funding for big ticket items such as vehicles, buildings, and equipment through the Asset Finance option.

Recent reports showed that SMEs are struggling to access finance during this economic crisis, with the Central Bank noting muted lending in the SME sector for the fifth consecutive quarter.

ISME's Bank Watch survey for the fourth quarter of 2021 also showed the challenges faced by SMEs with loan refusal rates at 33% and an increase from 65% to 68% of those surveyed who reported difficulties in accessing finance.

Neil McDonnell, CEO of ISME, said that SME confidence remains constrained, in an environment of high input costs and the war in Ukraine.

"Many balance sheets remain unrepaired after the pandemic. SMEs continue to finance themselves via internal funding or 'bootstrapping'," he said.

"However, we also see opportunity in many sectors, with the OECD noting that Ireland has twice as many business creators as the EU average. 2022 will be a year of opportunity for those enterprises willing to be bold in adversity. The ISME Finance Finder will be a one-stop shop for any SME seeking funding solutions for their next move," he added.

Andrea Reynolds, CEO and Founder of Swoop Funding, said the company's mission is to make access to finance a simple and smooth journey for all businesses no matter where they are located or what stage of their lifecycle.

"Ireland's SMEs need better and faster access to funding. Swoop’s technology brings the entire funding market together in one place and our expert team manages the funding process from start to finish," Ms Reynolds said.

"As an Irish company, Swoop is proud to be working with ISME to deliver the funding that Irish SMEs need, when they need it," she added.