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An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Communications Alex White, along with Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash, today presented the 1000th Trading Online Voucher to John Lawton from JL Intelligent Cooling Systems, a Kilkenny-based company that sells portable cooling and heating systems.
To mark the 1000th voucher, Minister White also published a report on the impact of the Government's Trading Online Voucher Scheme. It revealed that small businesses that move online experience a 21% average increase in sales, while over 70% of businesses surveyed expect to recruit new staff.
The Trading Online Voucher Scheme was launched by the Government last year. It offers small businesses a grant of up to €2,500 – subject to matching funding – as well as training, mentoring and networking support to help them develop their online trading capability.
An Taoiseach welcomed the report's findings and said: "The Government has a plan to rebuild an enterprise-focused economy that can support full employment by 2018. Small businesses are the backbone of every Irish town and village and, with consumers across Ireland now spending almost €700,000 online each hour, trading online is essential to create new jobs, new business, and new exports. As a small, open economy, our SMEs need to compete in a global market place and the Trading Online Voucher is one way for them to get ahead. The Government is committed to rolling out the Trading Online Voucher Scheme to more interested businesses, to improving digital skills amongst businesses and vulnerable groups, and to working at European level to develop a digital single market for the benefit of Irish SMEs and jobs."
Minister White said: "The report shows that seven out of ten firms supported by this scheme expect to take on new staff to cope with the online business they have generated. With the potential creation of an average of 1.4 new jobs per company – in businesses that employ ten staff or less – trading online is making a tangible impact on jobs and economic activity in Ireland.
"The average sales increase of 21% is five times the growth rate in the rest of the economy. This shows that small businesses with limited resources can expect an excellent return if they invest in online trading. No wonder businesses that make the leap into online trading believe their internet business will become more and more important to them."
Some 225 businesses that had received Trading Online Vouchers responded to a survey, which found that:
The scheme was developed as a partnership between the Department of Communications, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Local Enterprise Offices and Enterprise Ireland. Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash also welcomed the report saying: "The results are compelling and reinforce our belief that Irish businesses that take advantage of digital will gain substantial returns in sales, exports and employment. Digital levels the playing field for small business, enabling them to compete in a global marketplace, irrespective of their location. I note that the strongest growth in new export markets is coming from the UK, Northern Ireland and the US."
Minister Nash paid tribute to the network of 31 Local Enterprise Offices involved in making the scheme a success to date, and looked forward to further businesses going online to improve and expand their growth. He said: "I urge all small businesses to begin their trading online journey and to contact their Local Enterprise Office to apply for a Trading Online Voucher."
The presentation was made at the Dublin premises of Kingsize Menswear, which has increased its business and taken on extra staff since participating in the scheme. Kingsize is one of the case studies set out in the report that demonstrates what can be achieved when small businesses are supported through training, mentoring and networking, as well as through the provision of small grants.
Photography available upon request.
Notes to Editors
The full text of the survey report, including case studies on businesses, can be accessed here: http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/Communications/Knowledge+Society/NDS+Trading+Online+Voucher+Scheme.htm
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Ireland's Digital Economy
The digital economy is predicted to grow to some €21 billion by 2020. It is estimated that Irish consumers spend €700,000 online every hour of the day, 365 days a year. Up to 70% of this spend goes abroad, and fewer than one in four small Irish businesses currently have an online capacity. They are also unable to compete in the international market where it is estimated that over 3 billion people buy online.
The digital economy represents 5% of Ireland's GDP, a figure that is growing by around 20% a year. This is significantly higher than the overall economic growth rate.
Trading Online Vouchers
The Government's Trading Online Voucher Scheme was introduced and piloted under the 2013 Action Plan for Jobs. It was rolled out nationally under the 2014 Action Plan. The scheme is a key action under the business strand of the National Digital Strategy, which was published in July 2013.
The Trading Online Voucher Scheme aims to get 2,000 more small Irish traditional businesses trading online by the end of 2015.
The scheme offers grants of up to €2,500 (subject to matching funding), as well as training, mentoring and networking support to small businesses to help them develop their online trading capability. The scheme is attracting applications from across a wide range of sectors including retail, manufacturing, food, and professional services.
The scheme is making a positive impact and is an example of an effective partnership between the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Office Network. The 31 Local Enterprise Offices distribute the vouchers, as well as provide training, mentoring and networking support for the businesses in question.
Further information is available at www.localenterprise.ie
Trading Online Voucher 1000th recipient
John Lawton of JL Intelligent Cooling Systems sells portable cooling and heating systems. He has an existing site http://www.intelligentcoolingsolutions.com/ which is very comprehensive and there is no eCommerce element.
He now wants to develop a full eCommerce website selling the full range of coolers heaters and other related products. He has all the content/brochures/product information ready. He has looked at other sites and picked the best from each for his specification. He sees the market is moving to mobile and has specified a responsive design for the site.