A number of private and public organisations provide assistance to business owners throughout all the stages of their activity.
Chambers Ireland is Ireland's largest business network representing more than 13,000 businesses on the island of Ireland. A social partnership organisation, Chambers Ireland is limited by guarantee and owned by its subscribing member chambers. Its activities include representing business interests, support for small and medium-sized enterprises, training and development and facilitating international business.
The Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) is the national umbrella organisation for business and employers in Ireland with 7,500 members made up of small to large organisations. Its policies and procedures, set by a national council and a board, are implemented by an executive management group. IBEC provides practical information on employer issues to members and can represent you at industrial relations institutions including employment tribunals, among other services.
The Small Firms Association (SFA) is a national organisation representing the needs of small enterprises (i.e. those employing less than 50 employees).The SFA is funded directly through subscription fees from its 8,000 member companies. The association meets with government representatives and interacts with key decision-makers at all levels. It offers a range of services to members including economic, commercial, employee relations and social affairs advice and assistance.
The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) is the independent organisation for the Irish small and medium business sector, with in excess of 8,500 members nationwide. ISME offers members a comprehensive range of advisory services and publications, independent lobbying and representation, cost saving schemes, training and development programmes, and regional networking events.
The Crafts Council of Ireland promotes and assists the development of Irish Craft. It is a limited company consisting of both craft and institution representatives. Its activities are funded by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation via Enterprise Ireland.
Enterprise Ireland (EI) is the government agency responsible for the development and promotion of Ireland's business sector. It promotes and develops the indigenous business sector. Its five key areas of activity are:
- achieving export sales;
- investing in research and innovation;
- competing through productivity;
- starting up and scaling up;
- driving regional enterprise.
Enterprise Ireland has a network of 31 international offices that help Irish exporters and buyers wanting to source from Ireland. Some of the ways their overseas offices can help internationalisation include:
- finding potential customers and partners;
- organising face-to-face meetings with buyers;
- setting up distribution channels;
- developing business export marketing strategy;
- establishing business market presence;
- sourcing translation and interpretation services;
- initiating joint venture and technology transfer partnerships.
The Industrial Development Agency for Ireland (IDA) is a government agency whose mission is to secure new investment from overseas in manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors. It also encourages existing investors to expand and develop their businesses.
There are 35 County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) located throughout the country. Their role is to provide support for micro-enterprises (companies employing 10 or less individuals) in the start-up and expansion phases, to promote and develop indigenous micro-enterprise potential and to stimulate economic activity and entrepreneurship at local level.
Shannon Development covers foreign direct investment in the Shannon Free Zone and complements the work of the national agencies, IDA and Enterprise Ireland, through the provision of tailored property solutions for both foreign direct investment and indigenous industry in the region.
Forfás is the national policy and advisory board for enterprise, science, technology and innovation. It provides the Department of Jobs, Enterprise,and Innovation - and other stakeholders with analysis, advice and support on related issues.
Business access to state information and services (BASIS) delivers government information and services to businesses online. The information is structured around the lifecycle of a business, such as starting up and employing staff.
Various early stage business support services are available to entrepreneurs to provide a solid platform for starting and growing a business.
Business support initiatives exist at regional level and include Gaeltacht areas.
Access to finance is crucial for setting up and running a business.