Green for Business initiative smooths the path for small firms on road to sustainability

Local Enterprise Offices are offering free support to companies with up to 50 employees through their Green for Business programme

Patricia Farrell, Wilde Irish Chocolates, Michelle Mulleavy, AIP Thermoform, Shane Ryan, Ryan's Timber Products and Michael McLoughlin, Monaru pictured at the launch of the new Energy Efficiency Grant for small businesses. Picture: Don Moloney

Everyone is aware of the need to protect the environment and these days sustainability is more than just a buzz word with industry across every sector striving to ensure their day-to-day practice keeps the future of the planet at its core.

In a bid to help businesses achieve this goal, Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) around the country are offering support to companies with up to 50 employees through their Green for Business programme. Launched in March 2021, over 1,000 companies to date have availed of the scheme and are enjoying its many benefits, which alongside achieving a greener profile, also helps them to use less energy and waste and crucially, reduce costs.

Free of charge, Green for Business (formerly Green for Micro) is open to all small businesses and experts are on hand to help them identify key areas where improvements can be made to allow firms to become more sustainable, which in turn will help them to save time, energy, and money.

“With Green for Business, the LEOs can help small businesses take those first daunting steps and help them through the initial stages,” said John Magee, Chair of the network of Local Enterprise Offices. “And once the business is calibrated to that way of thinking, it becomes the done thing and will be easier going forward.”

He says that ‘Going Green’ is indeed the way of the future – and it is vital for businesses to have a clear, workable, and beneficial sustainability plan. So, regardless of size, sector or indeed ‘green challenges’, Local Enterprise Offices are there to help businesses to take the first step on their green journey, which will be mutually beneficial for both the business, its customers, and suppliers.

Carol Gibbons, Enterprise Ireland , Mike Cantwell, Local Enterprise Offices, Gordon Daly, CCMA Business Committee and Pauline Mulligan, Dept of trade, enterprise and employment pictured with Minister Simon Coveney at the launch of the new Energy Efficiency Grant for small businesses. Picture: Don Moloney

“It is undoubtedly the way of the future and is something which businesses can’t ignore – or if they do, it will only be a short-term game as non-sustainable companies are running out of road because consumers, clients and suppliers are demanding greener and more sustainable companies,” he said.

“We have found that small businesses, particularly those who are just starting out, are more tuned into this than larger companies – as they know that, not only do customers demand it, but many are sub-suppliers to international companies who need a green or sustainable supply chain.”

The programme works by LEOs assigning a ‘Green’ consultant to registered businesses, who will then be provided with essential guidance as they move towards a more sustainable future.

“We will help them to look at the small changes which can have a big impact in terms of what they’re actually doing within their company, and by extension, within the world around them,” said Magee.

“Having a sustainable strategy or green approach to business can bring about cost savings and resource efficiency – as it helps businesses to effectively use less energy, water and materials, while also reducing their environmental footprint and greenhouse gas emissions, which is very important when it comes to achieving national targets.

“In addition, there is also the opportunity for higher and extra value on products and services – particularly when it comes to aligning what the business is doing with evolving consumer sentiment. And that is very important in the context of company image and reputation.”

The economic development expert says that Green for Business, which is open to companies with fewer than 50 employees, also helps companies to become more resilient in the context of climate change. And getting started couldn’t be easier.

“It works in a very simple manner,” he said. “Anyone interested can start off by watching a webinar on our website and once they have learned a little about it, they can apply for the programme.

”We will then give them two days of mentoring with a specialist green consultant, who work with them with recommendations on specific changes for the business to implement.

“Following this, it is important for them to have a sustainability strategy in place – but we will support them further along that journey, both with advice and the new Energy Efficiency Grant, which allows us to support 50% of eligible costs up to a maximum of €5000. And in certain instances, companies can also be eligible to apply for the Green Start programme with Enterprise Ireland.

“We believe that right now there is significant understanding amongst the micro business community of the need for a sustainability strategy, particularly in the context of how it impacts on their time and resources. So, the Green for Business Programme is a key step in terms of moving forward in that in that context.”

For more information visit www.localenterprise.ie/Green - #MakingItHappen on social media