The crisis continues, and as it does businesses need to be aware of what business supports are available. It will have been easy to miss some of the most important aspects of what is available to help businesses as we have been inundated with news from all angles. Here, we detail the expansion of the business supports available in order to help your business work through this crisis and build your business into the future.
In brief, the schemes provide:
- €1 billion in liquidity measures available for SMEs.
- €180m Sustaining Enterprise Fund launched.
- Expansion of two SBCI Loan Schemes by €450m to provide an extra €250m for working capital and €200m for longer-term loans.
- €180m Sustaining Enterprise Fund for firms in the manufacturing and international services sectors
- Extension of supports for online trading to €7.6m
- Expansion of Microfinance Ireland funding by €13m to €20m for COVID-19
- Loans with interest rates dropped from 7.8% to 4.5%
- Free mentoring, free online training for all businesses
It is vital that businesses examine what is on offer, apply for schemes and loans, many of which are available at reduced rates, to give themselves the best chance of survival during this difficult time.
Trading Online Vouchers
Trading Online Vouchers are a government grant to help small enterprises to engage with online visibility and stores boosting your revenue and your marketing presence.
The €2,500 Trading Online Vouchers now have an added element that has heretofore not existed, allowing businesses to apply for a second voucher of up to €2,500 where they have successfully utilised their first one; and allowing subscriptions to low-cost online retailing platform solutions (such as Shopify or Woo Commerce) to quickly establish a retailing presence online.
Micro enterprises (under 10 employees) who can move their businesses online, through selling online, arranging deliveries or similar can now avail of the Trading Online Grants.
The €200m SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Loan Scheme will increase by €250m to €450m.
An additional €200m in COVID-19 funding for the Future Growth Loan Scheme, which will be released in tranches, to provide longer-term loans to COVID-19 impacted businesses. Loan amounts will range €100,000 to a maximum of €3,000,000 per applicant. Loan terms range from 8 to 10 years and loans of up to €500,000 can be unsecured. Interest-only repayments may be available at the start of the loans. The maximum interest rate will be 4.5%.
Business Continuity Voucher
The new €2,500 Business Continuity Voucher, available through Local Enterprise Offices, designed for businesses across every sector that employ up to 50 people. The voucher can be used by companies to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The interest rates on the special COVID-19 Loans provided by Microfinance Ireland (MFI) will be reduced from 7.8% to 4.5%. Loans can be made up to €50,000 with no repayments required and no interest charged in the first six months. This reduced rate will be available to all micro-enterprises.
Schemes, heretofore closed to certain sectors of the business community are now opening up to enable businesses in those sectors to trade during the crisis. The budget for two of these online initiatives has been increased to €7.6 million.
One scheme is open to micro enterprises and the second for retailers with over 10 employees. We detail more about the scheme for retailers with more than 10 employees further on in this article.
The scheme for micro enterprises provides an opportunity to grow and to set in place new structures at this time. For example businesses that want to provide takeaway services while their restaurants are closed can make use of the online initiatives.
Online Funding – Businesses with over 10 employees
The second online trading support will be available exclusively for indigenous retail businesses with over 10 employees.The new €2m COVID-19 Retail Online Scheme will be available through, and managed by, Enterprise Ireland.
Enterprise Ireland Assistance & Funding
Enterprise Ireland (EI) is also making available a Business Financial Planning Grant worth €5,000 to enable companies to develop a sustainability plan and to engage the services of a financial consultant.
EI has been at the forefront of supporting Ireland’s exporters in becoming lean in recent years with their Lean and Six Sigma training programmes. Now, they have introduced a new €2,500 LEAN Business Improvement Grant to help companies quickly access expertise to review and optimise operations at a time of crisis and identify the key measures needed to ensure continued viability.
The €2,500 Lean Business Improvement Grant is for a Training project of up to three days carried out by an approved external advisor/trainer directly with an eligible company. It is expected that the three days will be spread over a longer period so that there is time for the company to implement changes between sessions.
In the manufacturing and international services sectors, a major new Sustaining Enterprise Fund of up to €180m. This is specifically aimed at all firms with 10 or more employees impacted by COVID-19 that are vulnerable but viable. The term viable is critical here and companies seeking such supports will have to demonstrate the capacity to continue trading at this time and to subsequently develop their business. You should also note that these grants will only be repayable if and when a business returns to financial good health.
We have included some footnotes/points to note at the end of this article in relation to larger companies accessing financial supports at this time.
The array of supports in the midst of the crisis can be dizzying and confusing. We can point you in the right direction and ensure that you have the correct information available to apply for these supports.
AAL can help you to utilise the full range of grants and advisory supports available to help with strategies to access finance, commence or ramp-up online trading activity, reconfigure business models, cut costs, innovate, diversify markets and supply chains and to improve competitiveness.
Contact us today on 052 61 37775 if you would like to speak to us about how we might be able to help your company through COVID-19.
Points to Note When Applying As A Large Company
- For large companies – you need to have completed a formal application process for funding with an appropriate financial institution.
- Businesses qualifying under this EU supported scheme will be offered a Repayable Advance of up to €800,000. The Sustaining Enterprise Fund will be used to support the implementation of a Business Sustainment Project Plan which must be provided by the company outlining the eventual stabilisation of the business and a return to viability.
- The €5,000 COVID-19 Business Financial Planning Grant will help companies to develop the Business Sustainment Project Plan. The grant will support companies with 100% funding to engage the services of a financial consultant to develop this plan for use when applying for bank or investor funding and when developing their own medium-term financial strategy.
- Enterprise Ireland will work with these companies on a one-to-one basis to support the implementation of the plan.
- The project should focus on the Operations of the company in terms of;
- Crisis response where appropriate
- Sustaining operations including process re-engineering
- Planning for resilience post crisis.
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