Discover grants and supports to help your business navigate the coronavirus crisis
Enterprise Ireland has a range of Government-backed supports from €2,500 right up to €800,000 to help companies stabilise, reset and recover
Extra supports are available for businesses impacted directly by Covid-19 as are the existing range of services that Enterprise Ireland offers. Photograph: Getty images
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, it has been clear that countries worldwide were facing into both a healthcare crisis and an economic crisis. The necessity of lockdown has forced many businesses to close their doors with significant loss of staff. Others have scrambled to adapt their working practices to fall into line with new safety measures, while at the same time adjusting to changes in the global market.
Central Bank statistics have shown a fall-off in consumer spending since March, and while a recent CSO business survey shows that most businesses are continuing trade, 70 per cent of the companies surveyed are showing a decrease in turnover compared to a normal trading year. As we move into a phased re-opening of the country, many business owners and leaders are seeking support to deal with the unprecedented circumstances.
In response to the challenges posed by Covid-19, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation through Enterprise Ireland has launched a range of supports for Irish companies to help businesses stabilise, reset, and recover.
“What is significant with the impact of Covid-19, relative to the last financial crisis is that this isn't confined to a certain sector, it is impacting businesses of all sizes, across all sectors,” says Ciara Fitzpatrick, product manager at Enterprise Ireland. “It also doesn't matter whether you're selling on the domestic market or whether you're exporting overseas, it can have an equal impact.”
€180m of the funds are directed through Enterprise Ireland’s Sustaining Enterprise Fund, which allows companies with 10 or more full-time employees in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors access funding of up to €800,000.
“We are working with companies across multiple sectors, though many of them applying for this would be in the ICT sector, as well as in construction and engineering,” says Fitzpatrick. “These are companies that are fundamentally sound and were not in financial difficulty at the end of last year, but they are now suffering due to Covid-19.”
Our Business Response Team are here and available every day to help with any queries
For companies operating on a smaller scale, Enterprise Ireland is administering support of up to €25,000 or €50,000, depending on the size of the business. “This is a short-term working capital injection designed for smaller companies, which aims to encourage continuity and allow the business to return to growth,” explains Fitzpatrick. “There is a moratorium on repayments for the first three years, repayments commence in year four and the full amount is repaid by the end of year five.”
Essential to moving through this stage is a focus on financial planning, and while Covid-19 was unexpected, some companies who have been able to respond quickly were already exploring a variety of financial impacts on their trade.
“A lot of companies have been preparing for Brexit for the last few years,” says Fitzpatrick, “and while the challenges of Covid-19 are very different to the challenges of Brexit, there was a level of scenario planning that was being done that has helped some companies pivot better in this environment. We are seeing a lot of companies getting in contact with us and going through the Business Financial Planning Grant process.”
This grant administered provides funding up to €5,000 to connect companies with one of the 250 financial consultants working with Enterprise Ireland to develop a framework. “The plan doesn’t just help identify the financial needs of the company,” says Fitzpatrick, who adds, “it also can feed into a robust application for funding from our other supports, such as the Sustaining Enterprise Fund. So far we have approved 383 applications for the Business Financial Planning Grant, which have come in from startups, established businesses, and high-growth companies across all sectors.”
Adapting to a new environment
As they reopen or continue to trade through this period, many businesses will have to make changes to their workplaces and workflow to accommodate for new regulations. “There can be a whole range of issues that companies will have to deal with,” explains Fitzpatrick. “Some companies have to deal with implementing social distance measures in their environment when they go back, others will have to look at different processes within the company.”
Other ways that companies are looking for help is through schemes that provide professional guidance, and networking opportunities
Enterprise Ireland offers a Lean Business Continuity Voucher to help companies adjust through these changes. “This is a €2,500 voucher that is to help companies to identify and implement measures that would allow them to operate safely when they go back to work. We have a panel of consultants that companies can work with, and we can turn that approval around in a day.”
Outside of financial support, other ways that companies are looking for help is through schemes that provide professional guidance, and networking opportunities. “We have scheduled a number of upcoming webinars featuring industry experts,” says Fitzpatrick.
While these extra supports are available for businesses impacted directly by Covid-19, the existing range of services that Enterprise Ireland offer is also still available. “We still have companies who are coming in at startup level that are looking for equity funding, or are looking for research and development support. We are still offering mentor support and all the other supports that we usually offer,” she says. “There are a range of wider Government supports as well, such as the Wage Subsidy Scheme, and companies should engage with these, as well as their banks, in parallel with Enterprise Ireland.”
Companies should contact their development advisor for further guidance, suggests Fitzpatrick, or get in touch with Enterprise Ireland directly. “Our Business Response Team are here and available every day to help with any queries,” Fitzpatrick says. “Our view here is that things will recover, and we see businesses that were sound before the crisis continuing to be sound and profitable once the recovery comes about. In the meantime, the range of supports are there so that we can try to help the companies with immediate liquidity issues, and then to help them as we move into the recovery phase as well.”
For more information on the grants and supports available from Enterprise Ireland for your business, visit globalambition.ie/covid-19/