Minister Humphreys Announces Business Supports for SMEs

COVID-19 UPDATE 09/04/2020

posted in: COVID-19 Updates, HABIC

COVID-19: Minister Humphreys Announces Major Expansion of Business Supports for SMEs (source:

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, announces a major expansion of business supports for SMEs impacted by COVID-19. 

So what’s on offer to SME’s?

The package is now worth €1 billion in liquidity measures including a new €180m Sustaining Enterprise Fund for firms in the manufacturing and international services sectors. 

Amongst the supports is an 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 and online training are also available for all SMEs. To review the full range of supports announced please click HERE

HABIC & Industry Colleagues Write to Minister Humphreys

HABIC welcomes the Government’s announcement as “progress” in regard to the adjustment of the Online Trading Vouchers scheme operated by the Local Enterprise Offices (LEO). On the 01/04/2020 HABIC and industry colleagues wrote to Minister Heather Humphreys TD, outlining supports required for the Hair, Beauty and Spa Industry. Although the trading online scheme does not 100% fully fund the vouchers as requested, it has extended support to offer 90% funding. This is progress in the right direction. Our recent letters to Government can be viewed HERE 

The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation noted in a recent press briefing that “the announcement is the first of a number of extra steps, we will be taking to ease the pressure”. The Minister also outlined that there are three stages in which businesses require support: 1) Initial Shock, 2) Stabilisation and finally the 3) Reboot Stage. The Minister outlined that we are currently in the ‘Initial Shock’ phase, or ‘Stabilisation’ phase depending on the business. The Minister outlined how important it is for businesses to engage with all the supports available to help with planning, adaption and developing a road map to recovery. The full press briefing can be viewed HERE 

The Expansion of business supports for SMEs impacted by COVID-19 include… 

Online Trading Voucher

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The Trading Online Voucher was included in proposal to deliver Business Supports for SMEs. The Minister’s announcement in regard to the Online Trading Vouchers  will support salons, barbers and spas nationally to take their business online, or to extend a current website to include a retail element, booking software etc. This is a welcome measure and will support salons to diversify and allows organisations to develop a sustainable retail shop now and into the future. 

The online trading voucher of €2,500 will fund 90% of the cost, with businesses co-funding the remaining 10% of the cost. This means that if you receive the maximum voucher amount of €2,500 (90%), the business will need to pay €278 (10%) along with it. Previous vouchers were match funded at a rate of 50%, meaning that if the voucher amount was €1389, the business would also have to pay €1389. In order to apply for the Online Trading Voucher, you will need to Find and Email Your Local Enterprise Office.  It should also be noted that if you have previously received funding for a online trading voucher, you can now apply for a second voucher. 

HABIC Top Tips; 

  1. The funding for the LEO Online Trading Vouchers is limited (an additional fund of €3.3 million was added, to the fund which is now worth €5.6million nationally distributed over 31 Local enterprise offices) so our advice would not to hang around on this scheme, if you need a website developed then get emailing your local LEO as a matter of urgency. Don’t wait around. 
  2. Before you apply for the voucher be clear on what you will use the website for (bookings, general information, retail sales, etc)
  3. If you are approved and get the green light, take time to think about how you want your website to be like and how you would like it to function.
  4. Think about the content you want to add, now and into the future, future proofing your website now will help you in the long run.
  5. Also before you move ahead with a website, it is also really important to look at your branding and to be happy with this. 
  6. Finally choose your website developer very carefully, you will need to have a good relationship with this person. 

Business Continuity Voucher

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A business can apply to the Local Enterprise Office for a €2,500 Business Continuity Voucher to help a business develop a solid continuity plan that will help aid recovery and beyond. The new €2,500 Business Continuity Voucher, is 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 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. The goal is to help business owners make informed decisions about what immediate measures and remedial actions should be taken, to protect staff and sales. 

Full Details of the announcement can be found HERE 

To Apply for the Business Continuity Voucher, you can download the form HERE

Complete the form and email to your local Enterprise Office (LEO). Click HERE to find your LEO

 HABIC Top Tips; 

  1. Ensure that you save and name the application form on your computer before you start,
  2. Give your application questions a lot of thought before completing the questions.
  3. Try to structure your thought process on spare paper before you start to complete the form.
  4. Try not to overlap or repeat points and be sure to use your word count wisely. 
  5. Don’t waffle for the sake of it, but equally don’t be mean with the information. Too little information makes it hard for the reader to assess an application.
  6. When you start to fill in the form, ensure you give relevant and complete information.
  7. Never assume the person reading your application knows you or your business. 
  8. AGAIN….DO not ASSUME the reader will know what you mean or what you are talking about, ensure there is clarity and context to your points.
  9. Make sure to spell check your application before submitting.
  10. Get someone else to read your application before you submit it. 
  11. After submitting your application, if you do not get an email response to confirm receipt of your application within a day or so, be sure to follow up and contact your local LEO to double check they have received it. 

Mentoring for SMEs

Mentoring was also included in the announcement of enhanced Business Supports for SMEs. Under the Local Enterprise Office Mentoring Programme, clients work with an experienced mentor to identify solutions to areas of exposure within their business.

With advice and guidance from their mentor, clients develop strategies that are more robust, which address issues and maximise potential opportunities when the COVID-19 crisis comes to an end. LEO Mentoring services are now free of charge.

The Mentor Programme is designed to match up the knowledge, skills, insights and entrepreneurial capability of experienced business practitioners with small business owner/ managers who need practical and strategic one to one advice and guidance. The mentor contributes independent, informed observation and advice to aid decision making.

Who Qualifies?

The Mentor Programme is open to both new and existing businesses located withìn the LEO region.

How to Apply? Find and Email your Local Enterprise Office

For more information on the role of the mentor please click HERE

HABIC is working hard to keep our members updated on all COVID-19 developments from safety to financial. If there are any resources or information that you would like to receive, please comment below, or email HABIC at

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