Covid-19 is causing unprecedented challenges for businesses. Unlike previous crises, the pandemic affects companies of all sizes and sectors, selling into practically all markets.
Though not every business is struggling equally, or even at all, a combination of supply chain disruption, declines in demand and liquidity constraints mean very many are battling on a number of fronts.
Enterprise Ireland has responded swiftly, launching a suite of Covid-19 supports tailored to help them as they navigate uncharted territory.
This new range of supports has been engineered to support companies to first "stabilise", then "reset" or adapt to an evolving situation before, ultimately, getting back on the road to recovery and growth.
The goal is to assist companies challenged by the impact of Covid-19, whether from a fall in sales revenues to an inability to raise funds from external sources.
Chief among the new supports is the Sustaining Enterprise Fund (SEF), a new €180m scheme which helps to ensure eligible companies have access to necessary liquidity in the short-term.
In doing so, it helps sustain businesses so they can return to viability and contribute to the recovery of the Irish economy.
The SEF provides up to €800,000 to companies going through liquidity or cash-flow issues. It is structured as a repayable advance provided over a five-year term. In the first three years, recipient companies receive a grace period during which no repayment of any kind is required.
Enterprise Ireland has also launched a new SEF-Small Enterprise support. It provides financial support to smaller companies in need of a quick injection of capital, from €25,000 to €50,000, to support business continuity. The SEF-Small Enterprise support application can be made online and the process is designed to be quick and efficient.
We know from traffic to our new dedicated Covid-19 online hub that interest in our new supports is high.
In particular, we have seen strong demand for the Covid-19 Business Financial Planning Grant. This new support, which is 100pc grant-aided, is worth up to €5,000 to allow companies to engage the services of an approved financial consultant.
This consultant will help them develop a robust financial plan to help secure the company in the short to medium term. He or she can help with the preparation of documentation required to support applications for external finance from banks and other finance providers, including Enterprise Ireland.
Demand for existing Enterprise Ireland supports is strong too, including lean business initiatives which are designed to help companies become more competitive.
A new Covid-19 Lean Business Continuity Voucher, worth €2,500, is helping businesses to identify and implement measures needed to continue to operate safely to provide critical goods and services.
Its innovation supports are helping those companies who find they need to pivot, as well as those who identify opportunities to diversify into something new, whether in terms of geographies, products or sectors.
Enterprise Ireland already has a significant support system in place for startups. The most recent call for Competitive Start Funding, which is worth €50,000 to startups, saw huge interest. Its high-potential startup supports, which offer equity investment against a business plan, are continuing to help new businesses with the ability to scale at pace.
The Government reacted very quickly to this crisis, launching the employers' temporary wage subsidy scheme in March and subsequently signing off on a €6.5bn package of new supports to help Irish businesses.
Enterprise Ireland's role has been to develop the most comprehensive suite of products possible to support those businesses as they traverse the new Covid-impacted world, making their way through recovery and back to growth.
Undoubtedly it will be a momentous journey but the Enterprise Ireland website is the first step to take.
Leo McAdams is manager of finance and investment at Enterprise Ireland. For further information please contact Enterprise Ireland at email@example.com or on + 353 1 7272088
Sunday Indo Business