My Department’s Trading Online Voucher Scheme, administered by the national network of 31 Local Enterprise Offices, offers a financial incentive of up to €2,500 along with training, mentoring and networking support, to help small and micro enterprises to trade online.
Since the launch of the scheme in mid-2014, over 3,300 vouchers have issued to successful small businesses and more than 7,000 businesses have benefitted from advice and peer-to-peer support through their participation in the information and training seminars delivered by the LEOs. Rollout of vouchers continues nationwide and I have allocated €3m to the Trading Online Voucher Scheme in 2017 to support at least 1,000 more small businesses to trade online.
The scheme is helping to revitalise small businesses, including sole traders, from across a wide range of sectors including retail, arts, crafts and design, manufacturing, food, and professional services. An evaluation of the enterprise impacts of the scheme, which I published in May 2016, shows that the scheme is helping small businesses to grow on average by 21%, increase employment by 35%, and 3 in 5 begin to export. Digital trade is contributing to sustainable regional economic development, with both urban and rural based businesses benefitting equally from the online opportunity.
My Department is currently scoping initiatives to build on the success of the scheme, putting Ireland further ahead of our European counterparts in realising the benefits of selling goods and services online.
In collaboration with the LEOs, my Department is delivering a series of regional events to showcase the benefits of trading online, provide training and increase awareness of the Government support available. To date, regional events have been held in Roscommon, Cork, Ballinasloe, Dublin and Kilkenny, with an event in Cavan due to take place in October next.
Further details relating to the Trading Online Voucher Scheme can be found on my Department’s website at www.dccae.gov.ie/tradingonlinevoucher and on the website of individual Local Enterprise Offices at www.localenterprise.ie.