16 June 2016
The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Denis Naughten, T.D., noting the publication today of the IE Domain Registry's Digital Health Index, highlights that his Department's Trading Online Voucher Scheme is specifically designed to support small businesses to trade online.
A growing number of Irish businesses are changing to embrace the opportunities presented by the revolution in online consumption. Data from the EU Commission's digital economic and social index shows that 32% of Irish SMEs (10+ employees) are trading online, which puts Ireland well ahead of the EU average. Smaller businesses, however, tend to be significantly less engaged in online activity. This is borne out by recent research by Indecon and in the IE Domain Registry's findings.
The Minister said "Small businesses are the backbone of every Irish provincial town and village and, with consumers across Ireland now spending almost €850,000 online each hour, trading online is essential to create new business, new jobs and new exports. Changes in consumption patterns are growing rapidly in importance and impact. As a small, open economy, our small businesses need to compete in a global market place and the Trading Online Voucher is one way for them to get ahead".
Operated through the national network of 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), the Trading Online Voucher Scheme offers a financial incentive of up to €2,500 to small businesses to develop their trading online capacity, along with training, mentoring and networking support.
Commenting on the key findings of Trading Online Voucher Scheme Enterprise Impacts Report, which he published last month, the Minister said "The scheme is helping small and micro enterprises grow on average by 21%, increase employment by 35%, and 3 in 5 begin to export. Digital trade is contributing to sustainable regional economic development".
The Minister noted that he will be looking at ways to build on the success of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme, putting Ireland further ahead of our European counterparts in realising the benefits of selling goods and services online.
Minister Naughten also underlined the Government's commitment to the delivery of high speed broadband to every premises in Ireland. "A major procurement process is well underway in my Department, and will deliver at least 30mbps to every small business, home and school that cannot get access to such services" Minister Naughten said. "This will involve a major new telecoms network build across Ireland, covering 100,000km of road and 96% of the land area of Ireland, akin to rural electrification in the last century".
The Minister concluded by calling on all small business to avail of the digital opportunity, saying "I would encourage any small business owner who wants to begin their trading online journey to contact their Local Enterprise Office today and apply for a Trading Online Voucher".
Note to Editors
The Trading Online Enterprise Impacts Report, which was also published on 31 May last, shows that small businesses which trade online see immediate positive results. The report is based on survey responses from 600 small businesses that have availed of the Government's Trading Online Voucher Scheme and shows that the scheme is highly successful in helping small businesses to grow and expand. Digital trade is, therefore, contributing to sustainable regional economic development, with both urban and rural based businesses benefitting equally from the online opportunity.
Specifically, the survey results show that:
- 21% was the average increase in sales
- 84% experienced an increase in customer enquiries
- 73% said that the new online business was additional and did not displace existing sales
- growing businesses expect to recruit on average 1.4 more employees
- 3 out of 5 businesses begin to export, and
- 89% said that the trading online component of their business will become more important in the next six months.
The full text of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme Enterprise Impacts Report, including case studies on businesses which have benefitted from the Trading Online Voucher Scheme, can be accessed on our website.