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Companies aren't alone in this time of crisis

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In these extraordinary times, we want to ensure Irish companies know Enterprise Ireland is open for business. We are here to listen to and support Irish export businesses. It's critical work and never more important than now.

Like any organisation, our first priority is the health, safety and security of our employees and clients.

Our next focus is to provide the most complete services and supports we can to our client base from all our global locations.

We understand events are moving incredibly quickly. Every day, something new is happening and new countries are affected.

For some companies, the impact of Covid-19 may take some time to arrive or may not have crystallised yet, while others might be feeling it immediately.

But there is no doubt that this will be a severe economic crisis, likely to last some months and place many jobs at risk.

We're working hard to understand how different international markets are affected and the challenges companies in different sectors may face.

We're listening to our clients, so we can develop how we support companies as this difficult scenario evolves.

Our development advisers are working virtually and available as usual. For those with specific questions, we have set up a Covid-19 client unit, along with a dedicated helpline and email address.

We'll also proactively provide information and webinars, as we did for Brexit.

All our existing supports remain in place and more help is coming. The Government has announced €200m in enterprise supports, including the Rescue and Restructuring Scheme.

We are working through that now to finalise the details and get feedback from clients around how we structure it.

Our role is to work side by side with companies, along with other stakeholders that can offer help, such as the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, Microfinance Ireland, the banks, investors, Revenue and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

Our Covid-19 (Coronavirus) Business Response Plan document (which you can download from enterprise-ireland.com/businessresponse) gives guidelines for businesses on how to plan and prepare for any changes needed in terms of people management, business processes and operations management, supply chain management, and internal and external communications.

This guide also outlines the many key supports available to businesses from Enterprise Ireland, Government departments and other sources, and includes a step-by-step risk assessment process.

It's crucial for businesses to look after their employees. They are the lifeblood of every company, so have real concern for their welfare and make sure they are healthy.

Think about how your company can continue, both in terms of business processes and operations.

For example, how will you continue if you lose key staff or if your inward or outward supply chains are affected?

Really think about it and put contingency plans in place if possible.

There may not be easy answers, but the important thing is to recognise the challenge facing your business and to think about how it could operate in a different way.

Can you hunker down and prepare for the coming storm?

Of course, everyone is anxious and concerned, so communicate clearly and regularly, updating your staff, customers and other stakeholders about any relevant changes.

Some companies may see an upside from this crisis, so we are mindful of that, but it's not our core focus. We know we'll need to help reposition many companies to get through this and bounce back.

There are no panaceas, but we've been through tough times before and now have a much stronger and more resilient pool of Irish industry.

These are going to be a tough few months, but we're optimistic the Irish business community will rebuild.

It has talent, commitment and a strong track record in dealing with challenges.

Joe Healy is part of the Covid-19 Business Response Unit at Enterprise Ireland. For further information on the supports available or for any related queries, email the Business Response Unit at clientresponse@enterprise-ireland.com or call 01 727 2088.

Sunday Indo Business