Parliamentary Question for the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Richard Bruton TD)
For WRITTEN ANSWER on 25/02/2014
To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the grants available to support business start-ups; if such grants are available to persons taking up franchise opportunities; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The main sources of direct support to business start-ups, including franchises, through my Department are Enterprise Ireland and the City and County Enterprise Boards (CEBs).
Anyone interested in starting their own business should in the first instance contact their local County and City Enterprise Board (CEB). The CEBs support the indigenous micro- enterprise sector (less than ten employees) in the start- up and expansion phases and stimulate enterprise potential at local level. They are the first point of call in terms of advice, direction, training and grant support for anyone who wishes to start a business. Contact details for the CEBs are available on . CEBs can also refer clients to other appropriate agencies, for example Enterprise Ireland.
The CEBs generally only provide grants to enterprises in the manufacturing or internationally traded services sector, which over time can develop into strong export entities and graduate to the Enterprise Ireland portfolio. Retail enterprises (where franchise opportunities mainly exist) are ineligible for direct financial support from CEBs due to concerns over displacement as grant- assisted projects may simply displace business from other players in the local market.
However, any start- up can use the CEBs as a gateway to accessing finance from Micro Finance Ireland, which offers support in the form of loans of up to €25,000 to start- up, newly established or growing microenterprises employing less than 10 people with viable business propositions that do not meet the conventional risk criteria applied by the banks. The Fund has a significant entrepreneurship focus and is open to anyone with a viable business proposal. Applications for the Microfinance Fund should be channelled through the local CEB.
Further, anyone interested in availing of franchising as a business option could benefit from participating in the CEB non-financial or “soft” support programmes. All locally trading businesses, including start- ups, can avail of non-financial assistance from their CEB in the form of a wide range of business advice and information services, management capability training and development programmes, e-Commerce training initiatives, etc. Training courses include such topics as start-your-own-business (SYOB), taxation for beginners, internet marketing, ideas generation and negotiation skills. Indeed the SYOB course would cover the key issues in starting a business and would complement the information that would be provided by the franchiser.
The Deputy may wish to note that the system for delivery of State supports to micro and small enterprises is being reformed and the 35 existing County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) will be dissolved and new Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) will be created. This reform will bring about a new level of engagement and interaction at both national and local level in relation to enterprise support and economic recovery and growth. The target date for the legal dissolution of the CEBs and the formal launch of the LEOs is mid-April, 2014.
Enterprise Ireland’s client base comprises four main categories: Manufacturing and internationally traded services companies employing ten or more people (with a focus on exporting or with the potential to export); Innovation-led start-ups with the potential to grow on international markets and; Irish food companies – both those home-grown in Ireland, and those that are overseas owned or controlled.
However, as companies seeking franchise opportunities are primarily local market focused and seeking to become a franchisee of some international or national offerings in the local area, and as such would not be potential clients of Enterprise Ireland.