Under The Hood: A look Inside The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI)

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Pictured above is SBCI CEO, Jane Butler.

The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) is Ireland’s National Promotional Institution.

Set up by the Department of Finance in September 2014, SBCI was established to ensure that Irish SMEs can access finance at competitive interest rates and under favourable terms.

The SBCI operates through a network of bank and non-bank on-lending partners, including credit unions, to deliver lower cost and easier-to-access finance for Irish SMEs while driving competition in the Irish credit market.

We went on an insightful tour inside the company with CEO June Butler to find out what makes them tick…

Hi June, tell us what makes the SBCI unique?

Loans supported by the SBCI will generally be at a reduced interest rate, have reduced security requirements, and / or have a longer term than is available in the market.

As a state-owned promotional institution, the SBCI provides wholesale finance to SMEs through its on-lending partners (banks, non-banks, and credit unions), ensuring that the benefit of its support is delivered directly to Irish SMEs. The SBCI’s products are designed to fill gaps in the finance market as they emerge.

What difference has the SBCI made to Irish SMEs?

Since commencing operations, the SBCI has delivered close to €3 billion to almost 50,000 Irish SMEs. During 2021, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit posed a challenge for Irish SMEs.

The SBCI was effective in rapidly deploying supports at scale for SMEs such as the Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme and the Brexit Impact Loan Scheme. These schemes ensured that there was credit and funding available for businesses at a time when they really need it.

They provided options to access low-cost, competitive finance, while giving SMEs increased certainty to facilitate planning at a time of significant uncertainty.

What’s next for the SBCI?

Supporting Climate Action is a key priority for the SBCI and in recognition of this a new 10-year loan guarantee scheme focused on increasing investment in energy efficiency measures will soon be available in the market through multiple on-lenders.

The SBCI Energy Efficiency Loan Scheme is designed to help Irish SMEs and farmers to cut their energy bills and encourage businesses to invest in their energy efficiency and sustainability.

The scheme will focus on increasing investment in energy efficiency measures, such as heat pumps, solar panels, LED lightning and other energy-saving technology.

What piece of advice would the SBCI give to businesses?

To stay competitive and improve their future growth prospects, Irish businesses will need to invest in areas such as sustainability and digitalisation. This is a significant challenge given the current business environment.

The economic effects of Covid-19, Brexit and the Ukrainian crisis on energy costs and business margins cannot be understated.

The SBCI is committed to helping Irish SMEs face and overcome these challenges and grow their business sustainability into the future.

Do you have a motto or a favourite quote?

The SBCI’s logo states ‘Here to build business’. The SBCI’s strategy is grounded in this mission to support growth, prosperity, and the transition to sustainability, by driving competition, enabling innovation, and improving access to finance in the Irish credit market.

As the economy transitions into the post-Covid phase, the SBCI’s objective is to help businesses during the recovery period and beyond and strengthen the economy in the process.

Finally, how would you describe your experience of the All-Ireland Business Summit.

The SBCI was a proud sponsor of the 2022 All-Ireland Business Summit. The All-Ireland Business Summit provides a great opportunity for Irish companies to network, present and showcase their brand to business owners and investors.

From the SBCI’s perspective, the Summit provided an opportunity to interact with businesses seeking funding and to highlight the SBCI’s commitment to provide more SME-friendly lending products to market.