Pictured earlier this year are Michael Tunney, Head of Enterprise Donegal and Brenda Hegarty, Assistant Head of Enterprise Donegal, with Garry Martin, Donegal Co. Council and the wider enterprise team
Donegal Local Enterprise Office has announced additional supports to help businesses in the county during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Trading Online Voucher Scheme has been expanded and second vouchers are now available worth up to €2,500 with 10% co-funding to help more Donegal businesses trade online.
Another key measure introduced is a reduction in interest rates for the Microfinance Ireland ‘Covid’ Loan Scheme, which allows small businesses access loans of up to €50,000 with no repayments and no interest for the first six months.
Loans are available to all small businesses with less than 10 staff, including the retail, tourism, software and transport sectors.
The interest rate for loans accessed through the Local Enterprise Office will be at 4.5%, significantly lower than the market rate.
The team at Donegal’s Local Enterprise Office has been at the forefront in implementing key actions to help address and mitigate against the crisis Donegal businesses are currently facing.
For most small businesses, survival is the over-riding objective, as sales have significantly decreased or completely evaporated amidst the unprecedented pace and depth of the economic shock.
Michael Tunney, Head of Enterprise Donegal, said supporting local business and jobs is more important than ever: “We want to let businesses in Donegal know that the Local Enterprise Office is still supporting them and their services during this emergency.
“Like many other businesses, our focus has changed from assisting businesses to grow, to helping them survive this crisis and protect as many jobs as possible.
“In the current environment, so many businesses are unable to trade face-to-face with their customers, which has forced them to look more closely at their online offering and explore opportunities to sell to customers online.
“We’re helping more and more SMEs in Donegal do that with our Trading Online Vouchers, which are worth up to €2,500 for businesses that employ up to 10 people and want to start selling online.
“These vouchers cut the cost of developing your online trading capacity by up to 90% and companies that have already accessed this programme can now apply for a second voucher to add or upgrade their sites, by adding e-commerce facilities to the website, for example.”
He added: “We’re also getting a great response to our Business Continuity Vouchers, which are designed for businesses across every sector that employ up to 50 people. The voucher is worth up to €2,500 in third party consultancy costs and can be used by companies and sole traders to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We’ve also expanded our free mentoring and training programmes, which are running online and are a critical life-line for businesses right now, helping them to stay focused, find solutions, innovate, cut costs, manage cashflow, prepare funding applications, develop resilience and prepare for re-opening.”
Donegal Local Enterprise Office hosts a monthly business information session, which will now take place online on Friday, May 1 from 10am–12noon. This session is designed for anyone planning, scaling or growing a business in Donegal and will inform them about the support and services available from their Local Enterprise Office.
The next series of Grant Aid Workshops will also take place remotely on May 7 and May 15.
Next month, the Donegal Local Enterprise Office will deliver its Start Your Own Business Programme online for the first time.
Starting on Tuesday, May 5 the programme is a key support available for new business start-ups in Donegal and it’s hoped that budding entrepreneurs who are isolated and restricted by Covid-19 will use this as an opportunity to develop their business plans and put in place a roadmap to get their new business up and running, potentially creating employment in Donegal and helping to drive the local economy forward in a post-Covid-19 world.
For a comprehensive list of the latest information and supports available to Donegal businesses in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, please visit the LEO Donegal website: localenterprise.ie/Donegal
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