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Waiting to hear news of your online trading voucher? Here’s why…

There was never anything like rush to get online triggered by the covid 19 lockdown.

Many businesses are already up and running selling their products on what for some is a brand new sales channel.

Others who may have acted promptly, are still waiting for news on their online trading vouchers to kick off their digital sales.

Many are in limbo as a key element of the vouchers is not to start anything until your plans have been approved.

If you are among those wondering what the delay is in getting your voucher over the line, wonder no more.

The entire approval system looks to be creaking under the sheer volume of applications.

It’s been revealed that unprecedented demand for the scheme means 3 years’ worth of applications have beenreceived in just 3 months.

But there is good news!

The total budget for the Trading Online Scheme has been increased by almost 1000% from €2m to €20m.

Minister for business, enterprise and innovation, Heather Humphreys and Minister for Communications, Richard Bruton revealed a major expansion of the trading online voucher scheme to help small and micro enterprises to get online quickly.

The money available to applicants is being expanded by 14.2m after the local enterprise offices received 3 years worth of applications in 3 months following the outbreak of covid-19 in Ireland.

Following a previous expansion of the scheme in early April, total additional funding for the scheme is now almost 20m in 2020.

Under the scheme, small businesses can claim up to 5,000 in two grants worth 2,500 each.

The scheme also facilitates subscriptions to low-cost online retailing platform solutions to quickly establish a retailing presence online.

Minister Humphreys said:

‘There has been unprecedented demand for the trading online voucher scheme since the outbreak of covid-19 to put this into perspective, in 2019, there were 1,218 applications for the scheme; this year, between mid-march and early-june alone, there were 3,962, representing three years worth of applications in less than three months.

‘The scheme is an essential part of our covid-19 business supports for small businesses, and it is vital that we continue to make it available for enterprises to meet the ongoing trading challenges.

‘Thousands of small businesses across the country have already benefitted from funding under the scheme. The additional funding which we are announcing will mean that total funding for the scheme has been increased by almost 1000%.

Minister for communications, climate action and the environment, Richard Bruton said:

‘Now more than ever enterprises are relying on their online capabilities to interact with their customers. With this additional funding we will be able to provide approximately 7,700 vouchers this year to small businesses, compared to 1,200 last year. This funding will provide crucial support in these very challenging times. It will also ensure that enterprises are building the capacity now which will see them well positioned to take advantage of the digital transformation into the future, as more and more consumers take their business online.

Minister Humphreys added: ‘the ability to trade online has become more and more valuable as we move through the phases of re-opening the economy, particularly as we face into a period of reduced capacity on shop floors.

‘A quality online presence compliments your existing bricks and mortar business and allows you to advertise and trade to a much wider customer base. Online sales have been a lifeline to many smes during covid19 and we have seen major success stories of small businesses actually increasing their sales during the pandemic due to their online platform. We want to make sure that continues.’

‘Businesses and companies that remain offline are missing out, not only on the opportunity to pivot their business model in tackling the current challenges, but also in being part of Irelands future digital economy.’ said the pair in a joint statement.

Included in the additional funding allocated for the trading online voucher scheme is an allocation of 600,000 in new money provided for Udaras na Gaeltachta to deliver the scheme in Gaeltacht areas.

If you haven’t applied already…Get to it!!