The Online Tool at SupportingSMEs.ie is a cross governmental initiative to help Irish small and medium businesses navigate the range of Government supports currently available. The Online Tool collates information on the broad range of supports that the state offers into one, easy-to-use website.
By answering eight quick questions, the Online Tool can help a small business identify more than 170 business supports which may be available to them. They can obtain information on the range of Government supports for accessing credit, and they will be given contact details for their nearest Local Enterprise Office, where they can arrange a free consultation to discuss both the results from the Online Tool and any issues they may be facing with their business.
The Online Tool includes information on support to help SMEs access credit, grow their business, take on staff, develop new products, prepare for Brexit, and lots more.
Through my role in the Entrepreneurship and Small Business Policy Unit at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, I serve as chair to the SME State Bodies Communications Group, which maintains and promotes SupportingSMEs.ie. The Online Tool was originally launched in 2014 with 70 supports listed. It has since grown to include over 170 supports from approximately 30 government departments, agencies and offices, and has proven its popularity with approximately 140,000 sessions transpired to-date. The SME State Bodies Communications Group has a network of Jobs Ambassadors in place throughout the country. The Jobs Ambassador panel is made up of staff members from various government offices around the country. In addition to their day jobs, the Ambassadors make themselves available to help promote the Online Tool at events around the country.
Two Ambassadors from the Department of Employment and Social Protection recently mucked in (literally) to help myself and my colleague Sean Healy promote SupportingSMEs.ie at the National Ploughing Championships in Tullamore. Other recent events included the ISME Annual Conference, The Taking Care of Business Event at Dublin City Castle, and an information session at Dublin City Library’s Business Information Centre.
Anyone who would like to invite us along to an appropriate event to speak to small business owners can contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Promotional leaflets with information on the website have been produced and copies can also be requested by contacting me via e-mail.
Outside of the supportingSMEs.ie website, the Department’s own website at www.dbei.gov.ie displays a broader range of supports, including those from the private sector. This directory contains information on business networks, mentoring, enterprise centres, incubators, co-working spaces, opportunities for female entrepreneurs, online resources from the private sector, and more. The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation – in partnership with others – is currently working on a new business advisory hub website that will expand the online resources available to SMEs. This website will complement the existing Online Tool and will provide advice on business development and financial issues.
Please visit www.supportingSMEs.ie today to learn more about how the Government can help your business to prosper and grow.
This Business Support article featured in the March/April edition of The Hardware Journal.