Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD and Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Richard Bruton TD today announced a major expansion of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme to help small and micro enterprises to get online quickly.
The Scheme is being expanded by €14.2m after the Local Enterprise Offices received three years' worth of applications in three months following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ireland. Following a previous expansion of the Scheme in early April, total additional funding for the Scheme is now almost €20m in 2020.
Under the Scheme, small businesses can claim up to €5,000 in two grants worth €2,500 each. The Scheme also facilitates subscriptions to low-cost online retailing platform solutions to quickly establish a retailing presence online.
Minister Humphreys said:
"There has been unprecedented demand for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme since the outbreak of COVID-19
To put this into perspective, in 2019, there were 1,218 applications for the Scheme; this year, between mid-March and early-June alone, there were 3,962, representing three years' worth of applications in less than three months.
The Scheme is an essential part of our Covid-19 business supports for small businesses, and it is vital that we continue to make it available for enterprises to meet the ongoing trading challenges.
Thousands of small businesses across the country have already benefitted from funding under the scheme. The additional funding which we are announcing today will mean that total funding for the scheme has been increased by almost 1000%."
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Richard Bruton TD, said:
"Now more than ever enterprises are relying on their online capabilities to interact with their customers. With this additional funding we will be able to provide approximately 7,700 vouchers this year to small businesses, compared to 1,200 last year. This funding will provide crucial support in these very challenging times. It will also ensure that enterprises are building the capacity now which will see them well positioned to take advantage of the digital transformation into the future, as more and more consumers take their business online."
Minister Humphreys added:
"The ability to trade online has become more and more valuable as we move through the phases of re-opening the economy, particularly as we face into a period of reduced capacity on shop floors.
A quality online presence compliments your existing bricks and mortar business and allows you to advertise and trade to a much wider customer base. Online sales have been a lifeline to many SMEs during COVID19 and we have seen major success stories of small businesses actually increasing their sales during the pandemic due to their online platform. We want to make sure that continues.
Businesses and companies that remain offline are missing out, not only on the opportunity to pivot their business model in tackling the current challenges, but also in being part of Ireland's future digital economy."
Both Ministers Humphreys and Minister Bruton are strongly committed to the Trading Online Voucher Scheme and to supporting the increasing demand from small enterprises to develop or upgrade their online presence, which has become almost essential to enable them to survive in the current COVID-19 crisis, which has imposed significant restrictions on footfall through their premises.
Included in the additional funding allocated for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme is an allocation of €600,000 in new money provided for Údarás na Gaeltachta to deliver the scheme in Gaeltacht areas.
Welcoming this announcement, Government Chief Whip and Minister of State for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Senator Seán Kyne stated:
"Údarás na Gaeltachta client companies have demonstrated a particular willingness to innovate in order to survive the current pandemic and a move towards online trading is just one of the ways in which this openness to innovation has manifested itself. The additional allocation of €0.6m, to be provided by both my own Department and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, will help create the environment for Gaeltacht-based businesses to make this transition in the current challenging global economic climate."
Notes to Editor:
Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) Trading Online Voucher
The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) Trading Online Voucher is a scheme designed to assist small and microenterprises (10 or less employees) by offering financial assistance of up to €2,500 towards training and advice to help businesses trade online. The Trading Online Voucher scheme is administered by the LEOs on behalf of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment as part of the national digital strategy. The support is available to cover 90% of the costs of an online initiative and recipients can claim up to €5,000 in two grants worth €2,500 each. Participating in this scheme can make the process of trading online much easier for businesses. See: localenterprise.ie/Discover-Business-Supports
Trading Online Vouchers can be used for:
- development or upgrade of an e-commerce website, such as implementing online payments or booking systems
- purchase of internet related software - online advertising (subject to limits)
- development of an app
- development and/or implementation of a digital marketing strategy
- consultation with ICT experts
- training and support to develop and manage your online trading activity and subscriptions to low cost online retail platform solutions,
Changes to the scheme:
On 8 April Minister Humphreys in conjunction with Minister Bruton announced amendments to the scheme intended to boost the numbers of businesses seeking to engage in online trading. The support is available to cover 90% (previously 50%) of the costs of an online initiative and recipients can claim up to €5,000 in two grants worth €2,500 each.
The vouchers are targeted at businesses with the following profile:
- Limited or no e-commerce presence;
- 10 or less employees;
- Turnover less than €2m;
- Applicant business must be trading for at least 6 Months;
- Business must be located in the area covered by the LEO to whom they make their application i.e. LEOs cannot accept applications from businesses located outside their jurisdiction.