As Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, I regularly engage with small business owners and listen to their experiences of working within today’s enterprise community.
My Department provides, principally through our Agencies, a range of tailored supports for enterprises of all types and sizes in Ireland. Supports available included access to finance, management development, mentoring supports, business development programmes, marketing supports and trade promotion.
I want to ensure that all our indigenous enterprises have the correct supports available to assist their development into sustainable businesses for future growth.
That is why in the 2019 Budget I allocated an additional €3m to Enterprise Ireland and €5m to the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs). This extra funding assists our Agencies to reach more of our entrepreneurs and SMEs and provide tailored and targeted supports as applicable to the needs of businesses in their respective environs.
During the compilation of the review, the OECD met with representatives of the both Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Network to discuss their roles and were very appreciative of their enthusiasm, expertise and endeavours to support enterprise development.
The OECD report recognises that each LEO maintains its own local panel of mentors and it is this which is the main source of mentors to LEO clients. The LEO Network’s approach on a local and regional basis to the provision of mentoring expertise is monitored and, where matters arise in regard to demand, this is met through the shared use of mentors from other LEO offices together with addressing any shortfalls through the issuing of tenders for specific mentoring requirements.
Observing the remit of EI and the LEOs, there was further discussion regarding the potential to aid small businesses in the category of those having between ten and fifty employees, who are not currently exporting but who have the ability to grow and create further sustainable employment.
The OECD addressed the possibility of the Local Enterprise Office network expanding its activities beyond the range of micro-enterprise. The OECD acknowledged that the LEOs' geographical spread and their knowledge of their local environment increases their ability to respond to local demands and tailor their services to facilitate enterprise growth.
The recently received OECD Report on SME and Entrepreneurship Policy in Ireland has provided us with considerable food for thought as to how best to steer and progress the availability of supports to service the needs of an ever-changing business ecosystem.
My Department in conjunction with its agencies will be examining how to progress the recommendations to best fit the future needs of our indigenous enterprises.