Many of Ireland’s businesses have been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the country’s IPAs have multiple routes to assist them. (Photo by Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Images)

Although to a lesser extent than UK-based investment promotion agencies (IPAs), Ireland’s IPAs have put in place numerous measures to help both existing and new businesses navigate the Covid-19 crisis.

With a 35.7% support rate, ten out of a total of 28 IPAs across Ireland have set up a range of services on top of the government’s schemes.

In late 2020, the Irish government announced a range of support measures including a €200m Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland Working Capital scheme for eligible businesses affected by the pandemic, and a €200m Package for Enterprise Supports including a rescue and restructuring scheme available through Enterprise Ireland for vulnerable but viable firms that need to restructure or transform their business.

The maximum loan available from MicroFinance Ireland will be increased from €25,000 to €50,000 as an immediate measure to specifically deal with exceptional circumstances that micro-enterprises (sole traders and firms with up to nine employees) are facing.

The Credit Guarantee Scheme will be available to Covid-19-impacted firms through the pillar banks. Loans of up to €1m will be available at terms of up to seven years.

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The government has also published a National Action Plan in response to Covid-19.

From tax breaks to digital assistance

Often, Covid support for businesses in Ireland is offered through county councils’ Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), mostly in the form of tax breaks or consultation and planning services.

This has happened with Clare County Council, Meath County Council and Offaly County Council, each of which offer a waiver of commercial rates.

Overall, Irish IPAs have taken a similar approach to the UK in setting up helplines, conducting business surveys and sometimes offering webinars on Covid-specific topics.

Tipperary, for instance, has set up a business support call centre; Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown has been running webinars and mentoring through its LEO, and Leitrim has built an interactive map signalling a variety of support services, although more at a community level rather than a business one.

Probably testament to its status as one of Europe’s tech capitals, Dublin is redirecting visitors to Google and Facebook support pages to make the most of working from home. Specifically, it suggests visitors draw on Google’s list of resources to help them work, teach and learn from anywhere and on Facebook’s online business training events and business resource hub.