The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in every county are the first-stop-shop for entrepreneurs and micro enterprises seeking to start a new business or grow and develop an existing business. I am pleased that the individual in this case has already met with the relevant LEO business advisor on 15th May 2019. The LEOs can offer a range of advisory and other supports to businesses and again I understand that the LEO business advisor recommended that the individual complete an "Expression of Interest" form regarding a feasibility study grant. However, to-date the LEO has not received the completed "Expression of Interest" form. The LEO business advisor discussed with the individual the different financial assistance available to microenterprises along with the various soft supports in the form of training for anyone interested in starting or growing their business (e.g. a Start Your Own Business course).
In general, the LEOs 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 viable export entities. Subject to certain eligibility criteria, the LEOs can provide financial assistance within three main categories, namely feasibility grants, priming grants and business development grants for existing businesses that want to expand. In addition, there is a technical assistance grant available for eligible micro-exporter applicants which are seeking to explore alternative markets for their product or service.
The Advisor also discussed the different incentives and schemes available including:
- Microfinance Loan Scheme
- Trading Online Voucher Scheme
- Revenue incentives
- New Frontiers Programme
- Current co-working and hub spaces available.
In conclusion, I would urge the individual to engage further with the relevant LEO for more information with a view to pursuing the feasibility study grant application. In that regard, I am assured that the LEO will do all it can to assist in this application in order to determine whether and which financial assistance it can provide.