SMEs generating almost half of all revenues in Ireland

New CSO study shows that SMEs account for 99% of all enterprises locally

Large companies account for only a small number of the total number of businesses in Ireland but employ almost a third of the population, a new study finds.

The Business in Ireland 2015 study from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) shows more than 99 per cent of busineses in Ireland are small and medium-sized enterprises.

Overall, so-called ‘micro-enterprises,’ which employ less than 10 people, accounted for 92.2 per cent of all enterprises recorded during the year. Large corporations only accounted for 0.2 per cent of enterprises in the country in 2015 but were found to employ almost 31 per cent of the population.

During 2015, the number of new enterprises established rose by 11 per cent to 18,102 with 15,316 businesses closing up. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of enterprises formed rose by almost 30 per cent.


The study reveals SMEs generated 47.8 per cent of total turnover in the business economy and almost 39 per cent of the value of goods and services produced in Ireland was attributed to such enterprises.

According to the report, the top 50 enterprises by value generated 55 per cent of value added in 2015, while only accounting for 6 per cent of employment.

Micro enterprises accounted for almost 28 per cent of employees with SMEs accounting for 41.5 per cent of staff numbers.

Irish multinationals employed almost 774,000 persons in foreign affiliates and generated turnover of €168.3 billion. By contrast, foreign multinationals employed just under 304,400 people in Ireland and recorded revenues of €339.2 billion.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist