Written answers

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Neasa Hourigan (Dublin Central, Green Party)
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209. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the supports and grants in place for new start-up businesses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44213/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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The 31 Local Enterprise Offices nationwide are a ‘first-stop-shop’ for providing advice and guidance, financial assistance and other supports to those wishing to start or grow their own business and act as a ‘signposting’ service for all government supports available to the SME sector and provides information/referrals to other relevant bodies under agreed protocols such as Revenue, Micro Finance Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, LEADER, and Enterprise Ireland.

The LEOs offer direct grant aid to microenterprises (up to 10 employees) in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sector. Subject to certain eligibility criteria, the LEOs can provide financial assistance within four main categories, following the LEO Lifecycle of Pre-Start, Start and Grow. These are:

- Feasibility Grants, for investigating the potential of a business idea.

- Priming Grants, to part-fund a start-up and help with direct business costs such as salary, rental costs, utilities, marketing and consultancy costs.

- Business Development grants designed to assist the business in its growth phase after the initial 18-month start-up period and

- Technical Assistance for Micro Exporters(as businesses begin exploring foreign markets)

The Local Enterprise Offices also offer a comprehensive suite of ‘soft’ supports such as the Start your Own Business Programme, The Mentor Programme, Management Training programmes and Local Enterprise Office LEAN for Micro.

The Local Enterprise Offices administer the Trading Online Voucher Scheme, which has been hugely successful particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic and can help businesses, who have been trading for at least 6 months, to expand their potential customer base by developing their online trading presence.

The LEOs assist clients with applications to Microfinance Ireland for small business loans of between €2,000 and €25,000 (unsecured). Loans for commercially viable proposals can be used to help fund start-up costs, working capital or business expansion and by applying through their Local Enterprise Office, clients can avail of a 1% reduction in the interest rate charged.

Enterprise Ireland provides support to start-up companies to assist with business planning, mentoring and development advice. The agency also provides feasibility funding and finance, often in the form of equity investment, as appropriate to the founder’s ambitions and the company’s potential and stage of growth.

Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers Development Programme, the national entrepreneur development programme for early-stage startups, is run in partnership with 14 Institutes of Technology throughout the country.

In 2019 Enterprise Ireland approved 36 new early stage businesses investments of up to €50,000 each through a series of Competitive Start Fund calls to support companies reaching key technical and commercial milestones.

Enterprise Ireland actively works with High Potential Start-Ups (HPSUs), that is companies with the potential to develop an innovative product or service for sale in international markets and the potential to create 10 jobs and €1m in sales within 3 to 4 years of starting up. Enterprise Ireland’s HPSU Team works with these companies to ensure that they can avail of supports that reflect the stage of development of the business and the type of activity engaged in by the business.

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