The Trading Online Voucher Scheme is one of the many different supports that are helping small businesses adapt to COVID-19 and the growing world of e-commerce.
The scheme offers small businesses two vouchers worth up to €2,500 to help them improve their online enterprise, whether that involves creating a website, digital marketing, or any other digital improvements.
Though the scheme existed before the COVID-19 pandemic, applications for vouchers have gone through the roof this year.
Within three months, Enterprise Offices had received the same amount of applications as in three years prior.
The lockdown forced so many businesses to shutter their doors for weeks or months, making it crucial to have a means to reach, and trade with, customers online.
Even after the lockdown ended, commercial patterns have changed radically for customers and businesses alike, with online retail and business growing faster than ever.
Multiple times in the past six months the government has expanded the Trading Online Voucher Scheme, making more tens of millions more in funding available to keep up with the demand.
Other changes have involved making a second voucher available to those who had already used one, and changing the co-funding threshold so that businesses can claim 90% of the cost of a project, up to €2,500 total.
The TOV Scheme is administered by the Local Enterprise Office network, so applications will have to be made through the office where your business is based.
The first step in getting your voucher is taking part in an online webinar organised through the LEO, which not only provides information on the application process, but also contains a helpful primer on why it is so important for any business to have an online presence, and a few simple steps that can be taken to increase your visibility.
Even before the COVID-19 crisis kicked off, Irish consumers were expected to spend €21.4 billion online.
But despite this massive potential, only 32% of Irish businesses were engaged in any kind of e-commerce before the pandemic.
The TOV scheme has not only enabled Irish businesses to tap into the domestic market, but as online retail goes beyond national borders, 3 in 5 businesses that have made use of the scheme have reported exporting overseas for the first time as a result.
The next webinar being organised by Galway Local Enterprise Office for the TOV scheme will take place on October 14, places for which can be booked online.
However, before applying for a voucher, it is important to note that there are many eligibility criteria that businesses have to meet in order to qualify.
First and foremost, the business must have been trading for more than six months at the time of the application.
They must also have no more than 10 employees, and a turnover of less than €2 million a year.
Get more detailed information on the eligibility criteria for the TOV scheme and how to apply for a voucher.