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Budget 2023: Small business owner says cost-of-living measures will hopefully help her retain staff

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Empeal CEO Sohini De and her husband Aurobinda, who is the company's chief technical officer

Empeal CEO Sohini De and her husband Aurobinda, who is the company's chief technical officer

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Empeal CEO Sohini De and her husband Aurobinda, who is the company's chief technical officer

A small-business owner said there are many positives from Budget 2023. However, she would have liked to see more supports that would help increase investment in small firms.

Sohini De (49) moved to Ireland from India 22 years ago and co-founded her company Empeal, which provides an app it describes as a “health coach in your pocket” – with husband Aurobinda in 2018.

The firm has a staff of nine in Ireland, as well as 10 support technicians based in India.

One issue the start-up has faced is retaining employees, and Ms De is happy that some of the cost-of-living measures introduced today may help her staff stay in Dublin. 

“The vacant-property tax will definitely alleviate some housing issues, as housing is having an impact on keeping talent (in Dublin),” she said. 

“We also need more women to come into the labour market again, so we really welcome the reduction in childcare costs and we think it’s a very positive step.

“From a business perspective, they could have done something to boost the Irish enterprise competitiveness vs the UK and also the support to increase investment in small firms.”

Ms De said she would have liked to have seen additional support from the Government to support Ireland’s “indigenous enterprises”. 

“Covid-19 has created havoc within our sector, start-ups and SMEs, but we also need to focus on retaining and attracting investment – whether it’s Irish investment or FDI (foreign direct investment) – but we need investment in this sector. It’s a big, big issue at the moment and with high inflation, the economic outlook isn’t looking great for the next 15-20 months,” she said.

Ms De said start-ups “need more help” and schemes like the Employment Investment Incentive (EII) need to be “more relevant” for the sector.

EII is a tax relief which aims to encourage individuals to provide equity-based finance to trading companies. She argued that Irish investors are “very sensitive” to EII and the ability of start-ups to attract investment is hindered as a result. “It is hugely onerous on start-ups like us,” she added.

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