Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
535. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if she will amend the Covid-19 retail online scheme to offer more support to those that do not have a pre-existing online presence; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that just 69% of small and medium-sized enterprises here have a website and that only 32% of these online companies sell products or services online; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5638/20]
As Chair of the Retail Consultation Forum, I am acutely aware that Covid-19 has brought particular challenges for retailers - large and small, across the country.
Trading online is a very important route for retail businesses to grow and improve their business in the current crisis, and will be an important element in their recovery over the longer term. In April of this year I increased support for two online trading initiatives to a total of €7.6m – the first for micro enterprises in partnership with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Richard Bruton TD, and the second for retailers with 10 or more employees.
Firstly, in conjunction with Minister Bruton's Department of Climate Action and the Environment, I have increased support for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme which is available to all micro enterprises with less than 10 employees, including those in the retail sector through the Local Enterprise Office network nationwide. The €2,500 Trading Online Vouchers are a key government grant to help small and micro enterprises, with very limited or no e-commerce presence, to get online, boost their sales and reach new markets – particularly during this difficult period, when so many small businesses are closed to the public. However, the value of the Trading Online Voucher will stand to businesses for years to come, boosting revenue, and helping sustain and create jobs into the future.
The Voucher can be used towards adding payment facilities or booking systems to websites or developing new apps for customers, with co-funding from the business currently set at just 10 percent. The Voucher can also be used towards subscriptions to low-cost online retail platform solutions to help companies quickly establish a retailing presence online. Training and further business supports are also provided along with the Scheme.
Flexibilities to the Trading Online Voucher scheme are now in place allowing businesses apply for a second voucher where they have successfully utilised their first one, which brings the overall total voucher amount available up to €5,000 for each eligible business.
To qualify for the scheme, businesses must have:
- limited or no e-commerce presence
- no more than 10 employees;
- less than €2m in turnover;
- be trading for at least 6 months and
- be located in the region of the local enterprise office to whom they are applying (additional T&Cs apply)
Further details about the expanding Trading Online Voucher Scheme are available at
The Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme is complementary to the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) Trading Online Voucher Scheme. The objective of the Scheme, administered by Enterprise Ireland, is to support companies in the indigenous retail sector which have started an online journey, which will have the most immediate impact enabling them to respond to both the domestic and international consumer demand with a competitive online offer.
My Department proposed this Scheme in response to the COVID-19 crisis and the urgent need for retail companies to achieve a step change in online capability. Applicant companies must employ 10 or more people, have an existing online presence (e.g. website or social media), and have a retail outlet through which they derive the majority of their revenue. Successful applicants will be awarded funding to support a maximum of 80% of the project costs. Grants ranging from €10,000 to €40,000 will be awarded under the competitive scheme.
This Scheme is not about taking the first steps; it is about raising the bar, in an informed, planned and strategic way. The total fund size will be up to €2 million under this call. Further details on this Scheme available at
I am committed to supporting the needs of the retail sector in developing their online capability and enhancing their competitiveness.