Written answers

Thursday, 9 December 2021

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Enterprise Support Services

Photo of Pauline TullyPauline Tully (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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106. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will consider introducing supports specifically for entrepreneurs with disabilities who want to establish their own business that acknowledges the additional cost of setting up and maintaining a business that disabled persons face; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [60817/21]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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The Local Enterprise Offices act as a ‘first stop shop’ providing advice and guidance, financial assistance, and other supports to anyone wishing to start or grow their own business. The Local Enterprise Office can offer direct grant aid to microenterprises (10 employees or fewer) in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors which, over time, have the potential to develop into strong export entities and all schemes and grants can be availed of by any business that meets the relevant eligibility criteria.

The Local Enterprise Offices offer Feasibility Grants to help start-up companies or individual entrepreneurs with the cost of researching their proposed business idea to ascertain its viability and sustainability. They also offer the Start your Own Business Programme to assist participants in assessing an idea and making an informed decision on whether to proceed or take a step back. The Local Enterprise Offices also aim to accommodate all clients on a case-by-case basis.

Enterprise Ireland's Centre of Excellence is planning to deliver Diversity and Inclusion Training for Local Enterprise Office staff in 2022. This will be beneficial in helping the Local Enterprise Office staff understand the needs of all entrepreneurs seeking assistance.

The Local Enterprise Offices are providing mentors for a new course for people with disabilities who wish to start their own business, which began in September 2021. The course is hosted and delivered by TU Dublin through its Continuing Professional Development programme. It is open to anyone who self-identifies as having a disability and who wishes to start their own business. The course requires participants to have a business idea that they wish to evaluate as a sustainable enterprise.

The course will include a range of guest speakers whose experience and expertise are relevant to the target audience. Using a newly developed online tool that will enable participants to develop their idea on a week-by-week basis, plus adopting Universal Design for Learning principles, a customised experiential learning approach will allow each participant to maximise their learning from the course.

Each participant will be allocated a business mentor by their Local Enterprise Office who will support them with the development of their business idea. Pobal and The Open Doors Initiative sponsor the course, so there is no fee required to be paid by participants.

In 2021, Enterprise Ireland established a Diversity and Inclusion Steering Group to oversee the development of the agency’s Diversity and Inclusion vision and strategy. A critical component of this strategy is specific to supporting entrepreneurship and self-employment for people with a disability.

Throughout 2021, a number of virtual events (Virtual Ability Series) took place for EI clients and enterprises, including: Recruit for Ability; Inclusive Recruitment podcast; and DesignAbility - Innovation through Inclusion webinar. Content is hosted on eiLearn portal and is available to all enterprises nationally (e.g. eilearn.ie/designability/).

EI is also reassessing opportunities for greater employer engagement across their range of enterprise leadership and capability programmes, including Leadership 4 Growth, Attracting and Retaining Talent and Spotlight on Skills. The latter two programmes specifically explore employers’ current and future skills needs, and help develop talent attraction strategies, including diversity. Enterprise Ireland has a close working relationship with the Regional Skills Fora, in particular in the implementation of programmes such as Spot Light on Skills programme. This review will be completed by year end 2021.

My Department is actively represented on the Steering Groups of theNational Disability Inclusion Strategy (NDIS) 2017-2021 and the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities2015-2024 and has in place a Disability Consultative Committee to provide a focus for disability inclusion in respect of our policy work, schemes and initiatives. Membership of the committee includes nominated representatives of disability groups along with Departmental officials and colleagues from our Offices and Agencies.


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