There needs to be far greater direct engagement with the owners of small local businesses to help buffer them from the many current challenges they are facing, including staff recruitment challenges, inflation, energy costs and cash flow according to one South Dublin County Councillor.
Sinn Féin councillor Derren Ó Brádaigh said “As we know small business owners provide employment to 70% of the workforce in Ireland and account for 99% of active enterprises. There are now approximately 309,000 SMEs operating in Ireland with 91% of these employing under 10 staff members, so their importance cannot be overstated at either a national or local level.
“Small business operators by their nature are usually ambitious, capable and very independent people and often reluctant to seek assistance before their business is experiencing serious challenges. Quite often, difficulties arise through no fault of their own and are a consequence of the current cost of living crisis, inflation attracting and keeping good staff and having information about support and grants made more readily available.
Cllr Ó Brádaigh said “Just recently, I received some figures in relation to supports and grants provided to small local businesses in my own catchment area of Lucan and Palmerstown-Fonthill. And whilst the Local Enterprise Office has a number of advisory supports services available, I was astonished that only 19 small businesses were able to successfully secure funding supports this year, with the figure in 2022 a total of only 25. When I consider the number of existing business owners and small self-employed people with two and three employees operating and that are struggling right now, this is surprising. There must be numerous potential start up businesses that could benefit from grants and guidance, enabling them in turn to provide critically vital future local employment.
Ó Brádaigh added “In South Dublin County we have in the region of 6,800 business entities employing over 80,000 people. 80% of these businesses have less than 20 employees which further underscores the sheer importance of these essential local sustainable employment providers, and it is imperative that we are offering the very highest level of supports and access to finance at every point. More information on supports and grant applications can be found by visiting the Council website www.sdcc.ie and www.gov.ie and searching under enterprise support. I would remind local shop owners that you can also apply for grants toward renovation to your premises and shop fronts.”