Business Continuity Voucher and other supports for SMEs

27 Apr 2020

The Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation have taken significant steps in developing supports for businesses who have been negatively impacted by COVID–19. In order to make these supports available to industry, Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices around the country are administering the grants. Depending on your company size and status, your business will either fit the Enterprise Ireland or Local Enterprise Office criteria.

Below we have outlined the five most applicable grants available to SMEs:

Business Continuity Voucher – Local Enterprise Office

The Business Continuity Voucher has been designed to support businesses across all sectors employing up to 50 people in tackling the challenges of COVID-19.

The voucher is 100% funded to the value of €2,500 (i.e. there is no requirement for a company to match funding).

It can be used to cover third party consultancy costs to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The eight main areas of support identified by the Local Enterprise Office are:

· Develop business continuity plan

· Assess current financial needs in the short term to medium term

· Reduce variable costs, overheads and expenses

· Review and explore supply chain financing options

· Implement remote working processes or procedures

· Leverage HR expertise

· Leverage ICT expertise

· Prepare a business case for application to emergency financial interventions available through Banks, SBCI and Microfinance Ireland

Lean Business Continuity Voucher – Enterprise Ireland

Similar to the aforementioned offering from the Local Enterprise Office, this voucher is targeted towards Enterprise Ireland clients to deal with the challenges of COVID – 19. The voucher provides €2,500 worth of funding towards training or advisory services related to the continued operation of your business during the current pandemic.

Given the current environment, Enterprise Ireland are expecting this support to be provided online in most cases. The focus here is towards operations within the business, namely:

· Crisis response where appropriate,

· Sustaining operations including process re-engineering (e.g. Lean, etc),

· Planning for resilience post crisis.

Business Financial Planning Grant – Enterprise Ireland

This Enterprise Ireland support is specifically targeted towards supporting companies in developing robust financial plans in response to COVID-19. This can include the preparation of documentation required to support applications for external finance from banks and/or other finance providers including state aid.

This comes in the form of 100% funding up to a maximum of €5,000 to access support from external financial consultants who will assist you in developing these financial plans.

Ultimately, as a result of participating in this support:

· You will have a better understanding of your immediate financial position; understanding what finance you require to survive and provide a framework to sustain your business;

· Ensure that you have a framework to identify and manage your costs and gaps in funding.

Trading Online Voucher – Local Enterprise Office

The Trading Online Voucher has been in the funding eco-system for quite a while but since the pandemic and the need for businesses to adapt their businesses to be digitally enabled, the Local Enterprise Office has made it more accessible. This voucher applies to companies employing up to 10 employees.

It now offers financial assistance of up to €2,500 with co-funding of 10% from the client company along with training and advice to help your business trade online. This is a major drop from the 50% co-funding previously required. It is important to note that if you have received a Trading Online Voucher in the past you can still apply for a second voucher.

Examples of where funding can be spent include but are not limited to:

· Adding payment facilities or booking systems to your website

· Developing new apps for your customers

· Subscriptions to low cost online retail platform solutions, to help companies quickly establish a retailing presence online.

COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme

This scheme has been designed in response to the COVID-19 crisis and the urgent need for retail companies to achieve a step change in online capability. Enterprise Ireland will support 80% of costs to a maximum of €40,000 for Irish-owned retailers to enhance their digital capability and to develop a more competitive online offer.

The Online Retail Scheme is applicable to Irish-owned retail enterprises that had 10 or more employees on or before 29th February 2020.

Broadly speaking funding can be used for:

· Research

· Strategy development

· Implementation

If you are unsure about how to access any of the above grants or have queries about other funding sources in relation to COVID-19, get in touch with Patrick Black on our Food & AgriBusiness Team on 087 637 1428 or patrickblack@ifac.ie.

We are here to help in any way we can for you to sustain your business through these unprecedented times.

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