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Enterprise, Trade and Employment | To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment the extent to which the level of support for small and medium-sized enterprises continues

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment the extent to which the level of support for small and medium-sized enterprises continues; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


My Department, through our enterprise agencies, provides our small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a comprehensive suite of direct financial and soft supports.

The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) can offer direct grant aid to microenterprises (10 employees or fewer) in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors which, over time, have the potential to develop into strong export entities.

The LEOs also provide a wide range of high-quality business and management development programmes that are tailored to meet specific business requirements, and aim to provide entrepreneurs with the knowledge and skills to make their businesses a success.

In March 2021, the Local Enterprise Office launched the Green for Micro programme. This support is open to all micro enterprises with fewer than ten employees, and offers free advice and technical support on resource efficiency, how to better understand their carbon footprint and how to implement an environmental management system to reduce costs and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The Local Enterprise Offices are also preparing to roll out a new digital scheme which will help businesses to prepare and implement a plan for the adoption of digital tools and techniques across the business.  

Scaling and growing the export and start-up base continues to be a key priority for Enterprise Ireland. Enterprise Ireland helps SMEs with business planning, mentoring and development advice, feasibility funding and finance.

Enterprise Ireland’s new three-year strategy, launched earlier this year, sets out strategic ambitions for Irish enterprise over the period 2022-2024 and beyond. This includes initiatives to diversify export markets, increase the number of start-ups by 20% and to improve our productivity. I welcome the commitment that both Enterprise Ireland and the LEOs, working together, will ensure that companies of all sizes will be provided with a flexible service model in response to their growth and development needs.

The Government is taking a coordinated approach to ensuring the long-term productivity, competitiveness and growth of our SME sector. The SME and Entrepreneurship Growth Plan, which was published last year, provides us a blueprint, directly from the business community, on how to create a better business and regulatory environment for our SMEs and entrepreneurs.

Implementation of the Growth Plan is focused on the delivery of actions in ten key areas: access to finance; digital transformation; increasing first time exporters; enhanced assistance for high-potential businesses; clustering and networks; SME management skills; reducing the regulatory burden on SMEs; delivery of a single portal for business information and assistance; ensuring comprehensive enterprise agency coverage for SMEs; and increased SME participation in public procurement.

I look forward to the delivery of significant progress in each of these areas in 2022, which will help our SMEs to become more competitive and resilient over the longer term.

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