Entrepreneurs are vital to the success of the Irish economy. The 2014 National Policy Statement on Entrepreneurship defined “entrepreneurship” as an individual’s creative capacity to identify an opportunity and pursue it in order to produce new value or economic success. The Policy Statement went on to say that “entrepreneurship is a key element in the health and wellbeing of any thriving economy.” The OECD agree, stating that “SMEs and entrepreneurship are central to Ireland’s challenge of generating a broad-based growth and prosperity”. The continued growth of our economy is highly dependent on entrepreneurs and the SMEs that they create, develop, and grow.
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor reports find that one-in-five people in Ireland aspire to start a business. This is very encouraging, as it suggests a strong pipeline of entrepreneurs into the future. The jobs growth aspiration of early stage entrepreneurs in Ireland is ranked first across Europe and against competitor counties. Reflecting the relatively small size of the Irish market and the openness of the Irish economy, three in four early stage entrepreneurs in Ireland expect to have international customers. Ireland ranks highest against comparator countries in the proportion of early stage entrepreneurs that expect 25% to 75% of their revenues to come from customers outside Ireland.
Over half of all early stage entrepreneurs in Ireland are in the 25 to 44 age group. Ireland also has the highest rate of early stage entrepreneurs in the senior age group across Europe (55 to 64 years). In contrast the rate among those in the youngest age group is at the norm across Europe.
The Report of the SME Growth Taskforce: SME and Entrepreneurship Growth Plan, which was published in January 2021 further to a commitment in the Programme for Government – Our Shared Future, sets out an ambitious long-term strategic blueprint for entrepreneurs and SMEs beyond COVID-19. It has been developed by an SME Growth Taskforce of entrepreneurs, business leaders and other individuals uniquely positioned to contribute to a long-term vision for the SME sector.
The Taskforce’s Growth Plan sets out a wide range of recommendations with long-term strategic relevance for SME and entrepreneurs, including measures to assist companies to start up, scale up, enhance their digital capabilities, and increase export activity. These recommendations were reviewed and are being taken forward, as appropriate, by the SME and Entrepreneurship Implementation Group.
There has been significant progress on implementation, particularly given the challenging economic environment over the last few years. The Taskforce brought a progress report to government in December 2022 and noted its intention to continue its work into 2023.
Support for entrepreneurs
Mapping of support environment for entrepreneurs
The Department has compiled a mapping of supports for entrepreneurs around the country including funding opportunities, co-working, networking opportunities, accelerators, and supports for female entrepreneurs.
Supporting SMEs Online Tool
An online guide to increase awareness of the range of government supports for start-ups and small businesses. Answer the questions on supportingSMEs to find out which of the state supports might be a good fit for your business.