4 May 2021
By Elaine Murphy
Set against the backdrop of a contracting banking sector, Cork University Business School at University College Cork will host a two-day forum to explore alternative sources of funding available to SMEs on May 5 and 6.
This timely event, which is free to attend, comes quick after the decision of KBC and Ulster Bank to exit the Irish market, potentially increasing the cost of borrowing for Irish businesses.
Reduced competition, allied to a diminished appetite for risk among Ireland’s traditional lenders has seen SMEs turn to non-bank financiers, a source of funding that remains underdeveloped in comparison to other European countries.
Speaking ahead of the online event, Dr. Bernadette Power from the School of Economics at UCC, believes that the forum will not only help highlight some of the challenges faced by SMEs seeking finance in Ireland but also identify funding gaps that also exist here:
“Non-bank debt finance is extending the reach of SME finance to firms whose loan applications have been rejected by traditional banks”.
“Nevertheless, funding gaps still remain for micro enterprises, particularly those that are new start-ups”.
“We hope that our event will shine a light on the emerging funding landscape that exists here and how SMEs can best position themselves to gain access to these funds”.
Hosted in collaboration with the Irish Academy of Finance and The Entrepreneurship Group, the event takes places as Irish business put the finishing touches to strategies designed to coincide with the lifting of COVID restrictions.
As such, never before has it been as important for policymakers to have an understanding of non-bank lending, to ensure its sustainability and credibility through relevant policy supports and appropriate regulation.
According to Ken Murnaghan of Finance Ireland:
“Alternative providers often seek to deliver economic sustainability through service, product choice and innovation but recent banking announcements are a stark reminder that operating efficiency is as important for financial providers as their customers”.
“While Government will continue to have a role in supporting the depth of financial alternatives in the market, ultimately its bigger role is in fostering an environment attractive for competitive international debt and equity capital”.
The two-day event will see leading UK academics, Professor Marc Cowling and Professor Robyn Owen, speak alongside industry experts from organisations such as Finance Ireland, Flender, Microfinance Ireland, Davy Corporate Finance, Irish Venture Capital Association, Cork BIC and Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.
To register for the event visit https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/forum-on-alternative-finance-for-smes-2021-and-beyond-tickets-142529992043