So, you’ve decided to start your own business, what help and support is out there? Nobody intentionally wants to go on the Social Welfare, let alone stay on it for long. However, did you know there is support for Jobseekers who want to start a business? We normally talk about food businesses, however this information applies to a number of sectors. 

The first step for anyone who has lost their job is to apply for the Jobseekers Benefit with the Social Welfare, have your business plan ready and apply for a Short Term Enterprise Allowance (STEA) previously known as the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA). Due to the changeover there is conflicting information about how long you need to be on jobseekers to be eligible for the BTWEA. The scheme states that you must be on a jobseekers payment for twelve months. 

The STEA was set up for people who have lost their job and want to start their own business. It allows you to keep some of your Jobseekers payments and benefits for two years while trying to set up the business. Some of the benefits that the applicant can keep are the medical card, back to school clothing and footwear allowance. Rent supplement will need to be assessed. 

The main criteria for this scheme is to be on Jobseekers Benefit (JB) and have paid 104 PRSI contributions. The allowance replaces your JB with a weekly payment of €188. Depending on entitlements. 
The scheme provides grant funding up to €2,500 over two years. To see if you are eligible for this scheme. 
The next step is that you can apply for grant funding to the Local Enterprise Office. They have a number of grants available to businesses: 

  • A  Feasibility grant  is designed to assist the promoter with researching market demand for a product or service and examining its sustainability. The maximum grant given for this is €15,000. 
  • Priming grant  is a business start-up grant, available to micro – enterprises within the first 18 months of start-up. 

For more information on how to find your local office to go Local Enterprise Offices  (LEO).  Microfinance Loans are another option that assist start-ups and established businesses with business advice and support. 
Microfinance lending ranges from €2,000 – €25,000 with a reduced interest rate of 7.5% APR (if referred by an LEO) for a duration of between three and five years. 

The criteria to apply for the loans are having less than ten employees and a turnover of under two million euro The advantage of a microfinance loan is that it is available to all businesses and not based on a specific sector. 
So, you have decided to hire? What options are open to the employer? There are two main schemes  Jobbridge andJobsPlus. 

JobBridge  is a National Internship Scheme that will provide work experience placements for interns for a 6 month or 9 month period. Interns will receive an allowance of €50 per week on top of their social welfare entitlement for the agreed duration of the internship. 
Jobsplusis an incentive from the Department of Social Protection to encourage and reward employers who offer employment opportunities to the long term unemployed. Grants of €7,500 and €10,000 are available to help with the offset of the wage costs. 
Other funding options include: 

  • Seed Capital Financing  can be sourced from Enterprise Ireland with AIB and Bank of Ireland running the lending schemes. Enterprise Ireland has a total fund of €124million available. 
  • The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland  (SBCI), Finance Ireland will provide funding that is to be used for leasing, hire purchase and rental agreement options. 
  • Western Development Commission Fund has €32million available for SME’s, Community and Micro Enterprises. For relocating a business to the West of Ireland 

For food specific networkingDublin Food Chain provides mentoring and networking advice on the different stages of developing the business and the aim is to increase their member’s profiles and sales, and to grow the number of food businesses in Dublin