SFA Fortnightly Update

Dear Member, 


Welcome to this edition of the SFA e-zine.


We are delighted to announce that our free business support programme with Skillnet Ireland, MentorsWork, won the Best Coaching/Mentoring Initiative at the Irish Institute of Training and Development Awards 2021 on 23 June. To get involved in this fantastic award-winning initiative, you can book on to one of the upcoming Masterclasses for a sneak peak at what the programme has to offer, or apply for free here.


Read the SFA's call for the fast passage of SCARP (Small Company Administrative Rescue Process) legislation. Be sure to also check out the Quarterly Economic Outlook Q2, as Ibec's economists increase growth forecast for 2021.


The Government announced changes to travel after publishing a roadmap for International Travel, with changes due to come into effect on 19 July. 


Read about the importance of supporting employees following the Ibec survey results which have shown how Covid has catalysed the focus on workplace wellbeing. 


Check out the winners of the inaugural .IE Digital Town Awards 2021. Finally, don't forget to check out our latest press coverage.


As always, we’d love to hear from you about any queries you may have, issues you wish to have raised with Government or other stakeholders and your ideas on how we can improve the business environment for us all. Please contact me on tel: 01 605 1602 or e-mail: sven@sfa.ie or tweet: @SFA_Irl or visit our website.


Kind regards, 

Sven Spollen-Behrens

SFA Director


SFA in the media
  • National Economic Recovery Plan

National Government Recovery Plan

The SFA were featured in the Kilkenny Observer, welcoming the Government plan to support local businesses to get back on their feet.


Following our press release, the SFA was featured in the Echo welcoming the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment agreeing and reporting to the Dáil that it would waive pre-legislative scrutiny of the Heads of the Companies (Small Company Administrative Rescue Process and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2021. 

International Travel Guidance

The Government announced changes to International Travel due to come into effect on 19 July...

On 28 May, the Government published the roadmap for International Travel which will come into effect on 19 July 2021. See details of the roadmap here. Until 19 July, the advice remains to avoid non-essential travel. After this date, the guidance will become to travel safely and in accordance with public health guidance and restrictions.


In summary: 

  • The new roadmap details the requirements for a passenger arriving into Ireland which varies depending on the country they have travelled from; whether they have been vaccinated or not; and whether they have a negative result from a PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel.   
  • For travel within the EU, Ireland will operate EU Digital Covid Certificates.
  • An “emergency brake” procedure will be operative where a third country is dealing with a variant of concern or interest to the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control).
  • This “emergency brake” will be coordinated at EU Level and will provide for urgent and time-limited measures for passengers arriving from the relevant country.


With this roadmap in place, members can expect increased levels of personal travel and annual leave requests from staff. Employers need to plan for the summer months and ensure that the quarantine element is taken into consideration when an employee is booking their annual leave requests if they are leaving the country. If the employees travel requires a quarantine period, you need to discuss if the employee is taking this as annual leave/ a period of unpaid leave and ensure a return-to-work date has been agreed.


We have recorded a brief 15-minute webinar on the New Covid-19 Travel Restrictions. Emma Crowley, SFA HR Executive and Fiona Mulligan, CSI HR Executive, discuss the roadmap for travel within, and outside of, the EU and address what that will mean for employers over the next few months. It is available to listen to here.


For additional information, see the International Travel section on Gov.ie or contact Emma on 01 6051668 or by email emma.crowley@sfa.ie



Ibec Wellbeing Survey

See the Ibec survey results showing how Covid has catalysed the focus on workplace wellbeing...

According to Ibec’s recent survey, Covid has accelerated business focus on workplace wellbeing. Of the 242 HR professionals who responded, 27% small businesses with less than 50 employees participated in the survey. The results showed there is a high level of support for wellbeing at senior management level (81%) and 65% have explicitly called out wellbeing in their overall business strategy in 2021, compared to 26% last year.


Findings of the survey include:  

  • 65% of company had a dedicated team or person responsible for wellbeing, versus 44% in 2020;  
  • 65% of respondents had a wellbeing communications plan for employees, versus 44% in 2020;  
  • 41% had a defined wellbeing strategy, versus 31% in 2020.  

These results reflect those from the SFA wellbeing survey earlier this year, as it was found there was a 30% rise in wellbeing initiatives among small businesses compared to 2019. Small businesses are doing what they can to support employee wellbeing through bike to work schemes, healthy eating initiatives and organising walking clubs and exercise classes. Effective wellbeing programmes do not need to be costly, and much can be done to support employees on a limited budget.


It is important to note that in this changing environment, attraction, retention, and support of employees is vital. Wellbeing initiatives, including mental, physical and emotional is becoming a key factor in individuals’ decision on where they work.


Visit our SFA website for information and advice on managing employee’s mental health and if you have any queries in relation to employee’s wellbeing you can contact Emma Crowley on 01 6051668 or emma.crowley@sfa.ie 



Government commits to passing SCARP legislation before summer recess

Read the SFA’s call for swift passing of the Small Company Administrative Rescue Process Bill...

Recently at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise the Government sought the waiving of the long process of pre legislative scrutiny for the Small Company Administrative Rescue Process. This was a vital step in the process of getting this key piece of legislation passed before the Oireachtas goes on its summer break in mid July.


The priority that the Department of Enterprise is now putting into this piece of legislation shows that the SFA’s consistent raising of this issue has filtered through to Government. The Department understands that this legislation will allow business clarity and give much needed reform in this area, which is already a daunting process for small business.


We in the SFA will continue to stress to Government that speed is of the essence in this process. This will also support the SME Test across Government, allowing small business to assess the potential for less-stringent requirements and simplification of regulatory adherence.


Minister Robert Troy has stated that his Department has started on publishing the official Bill that will go into law when passed. Once this is published and passed, the SFA along with our partners in PKF will host a webinar for members to brief you of the new changes and how you can avail of the new framework.


You can access the SFA’ response here.


Quarterly Economic Outlook Q2 2021

Ibec’s economists increase growth forecast for 2021...

The economy is set to emerge strongly from the Covid crisis with Ibec’s Economic Outlook for Q2 2021 forecasting an increase in GDP of 6.5% in 2021. The first half of the year has seen the export engine of Ireland’s economy continuing to fire and a level of normality is now returning to most domestic sectors.


Despite the comparatively poor performance of domestic sectors in the first quarter of the year, there are signs of light on the horizon, with credit and debit card data and strong VAT returns for March and April indicating the potential for a rapid recovery in consumption. This, in conjunction with positive improvements in employment as sectors reopen, shows an economy well placed to see a rapid recovery in activity as the vaccine is fully rolled out.


As we emerge from Covid, Ireland’s most significant challenge will be to ensure future growth is sustained and sustainable. Ireland faces some unique challenges in the post-Covid era. We have obvious long-standing infrastructural deficits, significant Government policy commitments in areas like health, pensions and the labour market and hugely ambitious climate targets to meet. We are also facing threats to our business model from global corporate tax change. All of these will have challenging implications for economic growth, business competitiveness and tax revenues in the months and years ahead.


Ibec has called for a renewed focus on greater fiscal and competitiveness discipline to ensure resources continue to be available and used strategically to fix priority economic challenges such as infrastructure, housing, population aging and climate change.


Click here to access the full report. 

.IE Digital Town Awards

Check out the winners from the 2021 .IE Digital Town Awards...

Dingle Peninsula in Co Kerry has been announced as overall winner at the inaugural .IE Digital Town Awards 2021 by Minister Damien English, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.


At a virtual awards ceremony on Thursday, 10 June, the town was chosen from the five town category winners as overall winner. In addition to winning the Small Town category prize of €9,000, Dingle Peninsula was awarded an additional prize of €10,000 – bringing its total prize winnings to €19,000. The .IE Digital Town Awards, established by .IE, the company that manages and maintains Ireland’s country domain name, were launched earlier this year. It honours local town projects and people that have demonstrated how digital projects have contributed to enhancements or digital improvements in areas such as health, tourism, education, public services, employment opportunities, citizen empowerment, and social entrepreneurship.


The aim of the awards was to ‘Shine a Light’ on the good work and achievements of towns that demonstrated digital thinking and innovation for the betterment of local people, services, and society. There was a total prize fund of €100,000 across 14 award categories. Eleven of the awards were for individual town projects, with a further three special awards recognising a Digital Changemaker, a Digital Rising Star, and a Digital Hero.


Dingle Peninsula came out on top for their innovative project ‘Reimagining Creatively Through Digital’. The focus of the Dingle team was on promoting innovation and imagining new ways of doing things through digital. Among the highlights was a pilot initiative to increase sustainability and productivity by collecting ‘real-time’ data using sensor technology such as current and predicted weather and soil conditions, and grass growth rates.


This will result in carbon efficiencies that can extend the grazing season. Localised ‘real-time’ weather data also enabled tourism providers to tailor tourist packages based on changing weather conditions.The full list of category winners and runners up includes:

  • Small town – up to 2,500 population
    • Runner up – Arranmore Island: Using IoT to help with assisted living for the elderly. (Prize: €5,000)
    • Winner – Dingle Peninsula: Reimagining Creatively Through Digital. (Prize: €9,000)
  • Medium town – 2,500 – 5,000 population
    • Runner up – Listowel: Supporting businesses and community online. (Prize: €5,000)
    • Winner – Edgeworthstown: Using digital to transform a town. (Prize: €9,000)
  • Large town – 5,000 – 10,000 population
    • Runner up – Fermoy: Connection to the community. (Prize: €5,000)
    • Winner – Ballinasloe: Community Marketplace. (Prize: €9,000)
  • Large town – 10,000+ population
    • Runner up – Tralee: Getting Tralee digital. (Prize: €5,000)
    • Winner – Drogheda: Getting Drogheda digital. (Prize: €9,000)
  • Urban Town – up to 30,000 population
    • Runner up – Balbriggan: Digital rejuvenation. (Prize: €5,000)
    • Winner – Dun Laoghaire: DigitalHQ. (Prize: €9,000)
  • Digital Rising Star
    • Winner – Tubbercurry: Digital content for local people. (Prize: €8,500)
  • Digital Changemaker
    • Winner – Skibbereen: The Ludgate Hub. (Prize: €8,500)
  • Digital Hero
    • Laura Williams, Ballybough. (Prize: €3,000)
  • Overall winner
    • Dingle Peninsula, Reimagining Creatively Through Digital (Prize: €10,000)

Click here to read more about the Awards.

The Family Business with AIB
  • 1 July

  • 1 July, 11.00am - 11.45am

64% of all businesses in Ireland can be classified as a family business. Irish family businesses employ 938,000 people. SFA and AIB have partnered to offer SFA members key insights into family businesses in Ireland.

The Family Business Webinar in partnership with AIB will be held on Thursday 1 July at 11am. The webinar will last 45 minutes with Sven Spollen-Behrens MC’ing the event.

The format of the webinar is:

  • Opening (delivered by Thomas Mahon, SME Market Engagement, AIB)
  • Surviving a Crisis as Family Business (delivered by Dr Catherine Faherty, DCU National Centre for Family Business)
  • A Family Business Story: Rebecca Harrison, Fishers
  • Panel Q&A’s
Register now for this insightful webinar, not to be missed by any small business owner.
The Roadmap to 90%
  • 7 July

  • 7 July, 11.00am - 12.00pm

The biggest B2B channel in Ireland is the public sector channel. Therefore, taking part in public tenders should be a key consideration for any business that is serious about sustainable growth - public contracts in Ireland were worth €17 Billion in 2020 and were won by thousands of businesses across the country.


We are delighted to launch a 3-part webinar series on 'Bidding strategies for sustainable growth' brought to us by the experts at Orbidal.


The webinar series is an enlightening journey into what makes a great tender proposal and how to consistently deliver high scoring proposals that generate sustainable revenues. In this webinar - the second of a 3-part webinar series - Orbidal Founder & CEO Tony Corrigan outlines key tips and actionable advice to super power your tender proposals up to and beyond the 90% mark - the typical benchmark for landing a public sector contract. You will see what a successful tendering strategy looks like and how it contributes to consistently high scores across all areas of a tender submission. You will recognise what stops businesses just like yours from realising their potential and how to avoid common mistakes when compiling tender submissions.

Register here.


The last webinar of our series will take place on 1 September at 11am.

Business Loans: Maximise your chances of approval
  • 15 July

  • Thurs 15 July, 11.00am - 11.45am

There are options aplenty when it comes to business loan options for small business owners. But where do you start, what options does your business have?


In this session, Niall O’Grady, CEO of Linked Finance will outline the financing options available to your business as well as share tips and tricks to help speed up the approval process - so you can take your next business step sooner!


Register now to learn all about applying for business loans: what are your options and how to maximise your chances of approval

SFA Skillnet Ireland Masterclasses

Learn how to reduce waste and improve profits and cash flow in your business with our Award-winning business support programme...

Last week, MentorsWork won the Best Coaching/Mentoring Initiative at the Irish Institute of Training and Development Awards. Don't miss your opportunity to get the support you need for your small business - for free!


Register interest for one of the following Masterclasses below, available through Skillnet Ireland which are available on a first come, first served basis to get a sneak peak at the many innovative sessions that are running as part of the MentorsWork programme. Please see our website for more information or to apply.


Alternatively, if you would like to attend any of the individual sessions listed below, please register by filling in this short form with your details and we will be in touch.


Masterclass | Accelerate your Growth – Double the Value of Your Business

  • Thur 1 July 1.00pm - 2.00pm

Grow your business in 2021 and beyond to achieve significant growth and double your business. This thought leadership masterclass will help you examine new opportunities & channels - including exporting, tendering and pivoting. We will help you to build a plan to take you there, identify the funding you need and the actions to achieve this.


Masterclass | How to Win New Customers in an All-Digital World

  • Thur 8 July 1.00pm - 2.00pm

We live in a noisy digital world, so how can you stand out from the crowd to attract and win new customers?

This deep dive practical masterclass is for business owners looking to find cost-effective ways to win new clients digitally through popular social media platforms. Attendees will leave buzzing with tangible takeaways they can instantly implement in their business.


Masterclass | SBCI: Demystifying Government Financial Supports for SMEs

  • Tue 13 Jul 1.00pm - 2.00pm

Join SBCI for this insightful masterclass which will clearly outline the government grants and supports available to SMEs. It will include supports for all types of SMEs, the amount of grants/loans available under each scheme, the application process involved and next steps to get started. If your business could benefit from financial assistance, get the information you need to navigate available funding.


Masterclass | SME Talent Leadership in a Covid World

  • Tue 20 July 1.00pm - 2.00pm

This Masterclass will focus on managing and leading talent in challenging times. Creating and maintaining a motivational environment, inspiring a shared vision and celebrating different types of success. Using the new ‘Covid World’ as an opportunity to create/facilitate innovation in your team, identifying new or bolt-on services, dealing with your customers differently and keeping your team engaged.


If you would like to attend this session which is part of our MentorsWork Programme, please register here with your details and we will be in touch.