Small businesses ‘need more help’ in 2023 budget, says startup founder

The Dublin start-up founder says the government must do more to support small businesses like hers in the 2023 budget.

ohini De (49) moved to Ireland from India 22 years ago and co-founded her company Empeal with her husband Aurobinda in 2018. Empeal’s app is designed to give workers access to a comprehensive digital tool that “records, analyzes and motivates small, consistent and positive changes for big health impacts”.

The company has nine employees in Ireland as well as 10 support technicians based in India.

Ms De said the Government needed additional support and ‘focus’ to support Irish ‘indigenous businesses’.

“Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on our sector, start-ups and SMEs, but we also need to focus on retaining and attracting investment – whether it’s Irish investment or FDI (foreign direct investment) – but we need investment in this sector. It’s a big, big problem right now and with high inflation, the economic outlook is not good for the next 15-20 months” , she said.

Ms De said start-ups “need more help” and programs such as the Employment Investment Incentive (EII) need to be “more relevant” to the sector. The EII is a tax relief that is intended to encourage individuals to provide equity financing to commercial companies.

She argued that Irish investors are “very sensitive” to EIIs and that the ability of start-ups to attract investment is hampered.

“It’s extremely onerous for start-ups like us and if you self-certify and get it wrong, we’ll be killed,” she said.

“At the same time, the administrative burden is enormous. If we go, the amount of money we have to spend on administration is very large, so that deters us from going.

“It is very difficult for Irish start-ups to raise funds in this situation. There has been a lot of press about IIA funds and initiatives by the government, but if you really want them to work, we have to do something to make it more feasible.

Ms De said another issue facing the sector is “talent retention” and that incentives such as the Keep Employee Engagement (Keep) program need to be improved to help small businesses “attract and retain staff “.

“First of all, the sector has talent problems. Now we have housing issues, so wherever the talent is coming from, either the cost of their position goes up or it becomes very difficult to retain talent because they can’t find housing and they go somewhere else “, she added. .

“All of these things for start-ups and small SMEs are very difficult and to create a more level playing field, they need to be addressed in a very meaningful way. I wouldn’t say everything is a disaster, but the things that have made, with good intentions, need to be reviewed and made more effective.

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