Hundreds of businesses in Galway have benefitted from the Trading Online Voucher Scheme to help them boost their online presence to the tune of more than €1.5 million.
More than 600 successful applicants received vouchers from the scheme in 2020 in Galway alone last year, totalling €1.52 million in grant aid.
Galway Senator Seán Kyne said that the scheme has been a great support during the COVID-19 crisis.
“The support the Trading Online Voucher Scheme provides is important in ordinary times but even more so during the Covid-19 Pandemic on account of the public health restrictions on the physical opening of businesses.”
The Trading Online Vouchers Scheme offers small businesses 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 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was very much a small niche assistance for SMEs.
In 2020 it came to the forefront in a massive way due to multiple rounds of COVID-19 restrictions which involved closing large amounts of the country’s retail and services.
Businesses were forced to find new ways to move online and interact with customers if they wished to continue trading.
Administered by Local Enterprise Offices, within the first three months of the pandemic LEOs received the same amount of applications for the scheme as had been made in the three years prior to that.
In order to support the massive increase in demand for the scheme, the government approved multiple rounds of millions in additional funding as part of economic stimulus packages throughout 2020.
Sean Kyne added “Changes to the Scheme last year mean businesses can now apply for a second voucher to upgrade their website and online sales area to keep pace with the latest technological developments in online retailing.”
Though it initially fell under the purview of the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, responsibility for the Scheme has recently been transferred to the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
Senator Kyne said that this is a good move, with the new department being a “better fit” for the scheme, and one which “opens up the possibility of enhancing the Scheme further”.