According to a survey conducted by Bibby Financial Services, a large proportion of Irish companies are using credit cards and bank overdrafts to fund their export activities.

The survey of 350 businesses across Ireland suggests that most firms receive little or no help from government agencies when trading abroad.

Of the exporters surveyed, 25% are relying on bank overdrafts to fund export activity, 14% use credit cards and 11% have used their own personal savings.

In addition, 39% of business owners and managers said it was too expensive to ship their goods, 46% of businesses cited a lack of support as a barrier to export, while 33% cited a lack of knowledge on which export markets to target.

According to the survey, 71% of those hoping to begin exporting would be encouraged if they could access funding more easily.

Out of those participants who are already involved in export activity, 66% say that securing new business is a core challenge, while 63% have trouble with maintaining cash flow.

Close to half claim that access to finance is an ongoing challenge with slightly fewer citing concerns in the area of collecting payments from overseas customers.

A spokesperson at Bibby Financial tells GTR: “The overall figures of Irish exporting in recent times have been considerably positive and it is expected that this will continue. However, this is largely down to the continued growth seen here by large multinational corporations rather than the indigenous SME sector, which would provide a more tangible boost to the economy as a whole.”

The spokesperson continues: “Given that the domestic market is in deep recession there is a strong sense that businesses simply must direct more effort in exploring overseas opportunities. The findings of this report show that there is actually a need for a more concerted effort amongst lenders, government agencies, business groups and financial advisors to offer increased support to Irish SMEs, particularly around raising awareness of the funding options available to them and the support systems that exist.”