Written answers

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Small and Medium Enterprises

Claire Kerrane (Roscommon-Galway, Sinn Fein)
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423. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the supports available to new businesses starting out; if there are specific supports for those setting up in rural towns; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10823/20]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The Local Enterprise Offices are the ‘First Stop Shop’ for anyone seeking information and support on starting or growing a business in Ireland. Located in the 31 Local Authorities Offices nationwide, the LEOs provide a ‘signposting’ service in relation to all relevant State supports available through agencies such as Revenue, the Department of Social Protection, Education and Training Boards, the Credit Review Office and Microfinance Ireland. The LEOs can also offer advice and guidance in areas such as Local Authority rates, Public Procurement and other regulations affecting business.

I would urge anyone considering starting their own business to first contact their Local Enterprise Office (LEO’s).

The LEOs can offer direct grant aid to microenterprises (up to 10 employees) in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sector which, over time, have the potential to develop into strong export entities. Subject to certain eligibility criteria, the LEOs can provide financial assistance within three main categories:

- Feasibility Grants (investigating the potential of a business idea)

- Priming Grants (to part-fund a start-up)

- Business Development grants for existing businesses that want to expand.

It should be noted that the LEOs do not provide direct grant-aid to areas such as retail, personal services, local professional services, construction/local building services, as it may give rise to the displacement of existing businesses.

For further information on eligibility criteria see the LEOs Website www.localenterprise.ie.

Local Enterprise Offices also offer Start Your Own Business programmes/courses. These programmes and courses guide an entrepreneur and businesses starting out through the various aspects of business and business planning, including sources of funding. The objective is to assist people in assessing their idea, its viability and to decide if they should proceed or take a step back.

All LEOs also offer a number of ‘soft’ supports in the form of training or mentoring such as:

- The Mentor Programmewhich is designed to match up the knowledge, skills, insights and entrepreneurial capability of experienced business practitioners with small business owner/ managers who need practical and strategic one to one advice and guidance.

- The LEO Management Development programmeswhich provide the owner-manager with the management, leadership, business skills and knowledge to achieve sustainability and growth in their business.

- LEAN for Microwhich is a targeted programme for Local Enterprise Office clients to help small businesses boost competitiveness, increase performance and profitability as well a building resilience within their companies.

Further to this, if a potential business is not eligible for direct grant aid, an entrepreneur with a viable business proposal can also make an application through their LEO to MicroFinance Ireland, which offers support in the form of standard loans of up to €25,000 to start-ups with viable business propositions, that do not meet the conventional risk criteria applied by the banks. Successful applicants can avail of a more favourable interest rate from MFI of 6.8% if they make their application through the LEOs.

If a business is a micro-enterprise which is impacted by COVID-19 resulting in a reduction of 15% or more in actual or projected turnover or profit and the business is having difficulty in accessing finance from commercial lending providers, the MFI COVID-19 Business Loan up to €50,000 may be able to support your business. Discounted interest rate of 4.5% APR is available if their loan application is submitted through the Local Enterprise Office.

In terms of aspiring entrepreneurs and new businesses, I am satisfied that there is a comprehensive suite of supports available and that these supports are accessible in rural towns through the 31 Local Enterprise Offices across the country.

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