Hundreds of small firms sign up for free advice service

SOME 270 firms in Cork, the south-east and the mid-west have signed up for the Small Business Advice programme, a new service sponsored by Bord Gáis Eireann and supported by Plato.

Following an initial six-month pilot in Cork, the programme was rolled out to the south-east to facilitate applications from companies in Waterford, Wexford, Carlow, Kilkenny and south Tipperary in May 2010.

It expanded to the midwest to cover companies from Limerick, north Tipperary and Clare in October 2010.

The advice offered is company specific, free and confidential. The programme aims to give struggling small businesses the help they need to ride out the recession through partnering them with volunteer advisors.

The service was the brainchild of Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney.

Small Business Advice project manager John McSweeney said: “The common theme coming across from the people seeking assistance is that they have nowhere else to go. These are sole traders, small retailers and service providers who are not members of any representative organisations. They feel disenfranchised and are delighted that a service that meets their specific needs in a practical way is available free.

“The majority of business we help have fewer than six persons employed and a turnover of less than €500,000 per annum; 50% are either sole traders or a partnership. We work with business from a wide range of industries which include services, retail, manufacturing and wholesale.

“We have 75 volunteer advisers on our panels in the three regions.”

* For more information, visit smallbusinessadvice.ie or call 1850 763763.

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