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We should back female and elderly entrepreneurs better: small-business lobby

They’re among the groups under-represented in business which could be targeted in a national policy for entrepreneurs.

WOMEN AND THE elderly could be better supported as budding entrepreneurs if the government got behind a nationwide scheme to back small business.

The call for a national entrepreneurship policy came from the Small Firms Association (SFA) at the start of the European Commission’s small and medium enterprise (SME) week.

SFA director Patricia Callan said groups which were under-represented in the small-business sector like the young, elderly, women and immigrants could all be singled-out in the policy.

“By focusing on the entrepreneurial sector, we can deliver real balanced regional growth; however, this will only be possible if there is a national entrepreneurship strategy,” she said.

The policy should drive entrepreneurship in a determined and coherent manner, so as to harness the necessary resources, both public and private, at national, regional and local level, and from cradle to grave.”

Small Firms Association Conferences SFA director Patricia Callan. Mark Stedman / Photocall Ireland Mark Stedman / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

Lots of talk but no policy

While the government has a string of supports in place to help SMEs, it is yet to produce a complete entrepreneurship policy after putting the idea out to public consultation in May last year.

About 97% of all businesses in Ireland fall into either the small or micro categories – those that have less than 50 employees.

Those small businesses were responsible for employing over 860,000 workers across Ireland in addition to the nearly 50,000 people who were self-employed, according to an SFA analysis of Revenue data.

The SFA wants the government to include an overhaul of its current business incentive scheme in the budget to make it easier for people investing in SMEs to claim tax benefits.

There should also be a specific capital-gains tax for “entrepreneur’s relief” if business owners sold or closed part of their operation, it said.

The time for European SMEs

The European Commission’s SME week was set up to promote enterprise across the region in line after the introduction of the small business act in 2008.

It included setting up a single point of contact in every country for foreign enterprises looking to do business there.

Speaking at the Irish launch yesterday, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said local businesses looking to get into the wider European market should use the contact point to find out what support was available for their operation.

Richard Bruton Jobs Announcements Jobs Minister Richard Bruton. Leah Farrell / Photocall Ireland Leah Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

While the domestic economy is beginning to improve we must work hard to ensure that our SMEs are aware of the supports that are available to them in order to gain access to new markets and opportunities,” he said.

READ: Small and medium businesses could* deliver 20,000 jobs

READ: The SFA is warning the new small business minister to steer clear of wage hikes

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