As set out in Future Jobs Ireland 2019, all businesses, regardless of size or sector, in today’s digital environment need to focus on building competitive online capability. The agencies of my Department offer a range of supports to assist businesses to trade online.
The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are the first-stop-shop service assisting in delivering business growth and jobs for the small & micro-enterprise sector. The LEOs undertake a number of activities to encourage businesses to build their online presence and compete in the online market place.
The LEOs nationwide actively promote the Trading Online Voucher Scheme (TOVS) run in collaboration with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. The TOVS offers matched financial assistance of up to €2,500, along with training and advice, to micro companies (10 or less employees) who want to establish an online presence for the first time, or who wish to expand a basic existing website to incorporate a more substantive online trading capacity. Since the start of the scheme in July 2014 to date over 5,000 micro enterprises have availed of the TOVS.
The LEOs also offer a wide range of short training programmes to support their clients in building their online presence and to compete in the online marketplace.
Enterprise Ireland is focused on helping export-focused clients across all sectors to exploit the internet as a route to market and to assist them in developing a strategy that will shape how they do business online. The ability to conduct business and trade online is vital for business and provides one of the most cost-effective ways to develop an export market
In addition, under Enterprise Ireland’s Business Process Improvement Grant, client companies can apply for grant support to undertake an e-Marketing Improvement Assignment. Using one-to-one training and action-based learning, consultants/ trainers work with clients to plan and implement an eMarketing strategy.
As Chair of the Retail Consultation Forum, I have prioritised supporting the retail sector to develop their online capability in order for them to expand their market reach nationally and internationally and enhance their competitiveness.
I introduced a new pilot Online Retail Scheme administered by Enterprise Ireland, the first call of which opened on 24th October 2018 and closed on 5th December 2018. I announced the eleven successful applicants on 1st March 2019 in Skibbereen, Co. Cork.
The pilot Online Retail Scheme supports retail businesses of 10 employees or more who are ready to strategically grow their online capability, with grants of between €10,000 and €25,000 on a 50 percent match fund basis. Eligible expenditure under the Scheme includes activities such as research, strategy development, implementation and relevant training. The Scheme launched with a fund of up to €625,000, which was later doubled to €1.25m as part of my Department’s 2019 Budget.
The second call for the pilot Online Retail Scheme opened on 19th June and will close on 31st July.