The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in association with the Local Enterprise Office recently announcement a new initiative as part of the National Digital Strategy to help incentivise small businesses in Ireland to enhance their e-commerce and digital marketing capabilities.
The Online Trading Vouchers scheme will see as many as 1,000 vouchers being made available for small business that meet specific criteria at selected Local Enterprise Offices (LEO’s) regions across the country including Cork City and County. The Government has allocated €5 million towards the scheme and will make grants of up to €2,500 available to small businesses located in the selected pilot areas of:
The Online Trading Vouchers scheme is explicitly aimed at small Irish businesses that that currently have a limited e-commerce/digital marketing presence. The small businesses that wish to apply for this grant need to meet the following criteria:
Not all projects meeting these criteria will qualify such as those with charitable status, commercial semi-state companies, "not for profit" organisations, trade associations and company representation bodies such as Chambers of Commerce.
The South Cork Local Enterprise Office has recently opened for applications for the new Trading Online Voucher scheme and say that the reaction has proven extremely positive. Sean O’Sullivan, Head of Local Enterprise stated that:
“Demand from small local businesses to participate has been high and, within days of making our first two pre-application training programmes available, almost 300 businesses had registered. The scheme is allowing the team here in South Cork to engage with a wider range of companies than ever before. Trading online is not only a big opportunity for small businesses; it is more and more becoming an essential part of business strategy. With a little help and some financial support we can ensure that these businesses benefit as a result."
The Online Trading Vouchers can be used for the development or enhancement of an e-commerce website which might include implementing online payments or booking systems. Other uses of the voucher include:
The Online Trading Vouchers are for use exclusively with online business activity and cannot be used for the following:
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For eligible businesses to qualify for the voucher, a representative must attend of the information seminars hosted by the Local Enterprise Office which will not only provide all the necessary details as to how to apply but also how best to maximise the added value from the Online Trading Voucher scheme.
Organise to get you or a representative from your business to attend one of the information sessions at your LEO.