Govt rolls out €5m e-commerce voucher scheme for small businesses

12 Jun 2014

The Irish Government is rolling out a Trading Online Voucher Scheme to enable small companies to embrace the digital economy. The scheme has the voluntary support of companies such as Google, Realex, PayPal, An Post and Facebook.

The Trading Online Voucher scheme is designed to help the small companies to access the opportunities open to them through trading online. This will help companies right across Ireland to access new markets so that they can grow and create more jobs.

The National Digital Strategy target is to get 2,000 SMEs trading online over a two year period.

The Government’s Stimulus Fund has set aside up to €5m for the rollout of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme from 2014.

Under the scheme vouchers of up to €2,500 will be available to businesses who demonstrate that they have a credible plan to trading online.

It is estimated that about 21pc of Irish businesses currently do not have the facility to transact online.

A report by UPC on the digital economy last week estimated there are 47,000 Irish businesses that are strangers to the burgeoning digital economy.

The value of Ireland’s internet economy is forecast to grow from its current level of €8.4bn to an estimated €21.1bn by 2010 with consumer spending contributing 60pc (€13bn) to this figure. Currently €3.5bn of spending by voracious Irish digital consumers leaves the country every year, meaning Irish SMEs are letting business effectively walk out the door.

“Far too much on-line business goes to suppliers from abroad,” Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte explained.

“We want to ensure the companies who access government support to go on-line  will get the most from it.  We are working with the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) to upskill their personnel.

“We are helping them understand how digital impacts on logistics, marketing, search engine optimisation, payments and other aspects of small business.

“This will help to ensure mentors and staff in each LEO will be well geared up to guide applicant companies all over Ireland to use the investment wisely, grow their businesses, start exporting and ultimately increase employment,” Rabbitte added.

E-commerce image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years