Facebook Ireland has announced that it is introducing an initiative to train over 10,000 Irish SMEs in 2021 to support their recovery from the challenges caused by Covid-19. Labelled the ‘Boost with Facebook’ programme, the initiative aims to provide digital skills training to help businesses grow their online footprint, establish an online shop front, connect with new customers, and reach new audiences.
This follows from Facebook’s latest State of Small Business report which showed that 62% of the Irish businesses that remained open during the pandemic experienced lower sales, and 25% of the Irish businesses that remained open during the pandemic reduced employment. Better news was that while 32% of SMEs reported having to close their business, this was down significantly from the 58% reporting closures when the survey was last conducted in July 2020.
A migration to online sales has proved to be a lifeline for many businesses during the pandemic as thousands of entrepreneurial companies across Ireland found new and innovative ways to service their customer base throughout lockdown. This is evidenced by the 160% surge in ecommerce revenue for Irish retailers in 2020, accelerating from the average 32% per annum growth experienced in 2017 to 2019.
Boost with Facebook builds on Facebook’s existing programme of support for SMEs which included providing €4.6 million in 2020 to over 1,000 small businesses across Ireland. The grants were a combination of cash, to help cover essential bills and payroll, and ad credits to help SMEs generate revenue through online marketing and sales.
“Our research shows that SMEs have suffered during the pandemic, which is why helping to drive their recovery is crucial,” said David Harris, director of global business at Facebook. “Business owners in Ireland are learning to embrace the benefits that digital and social media channels can play in growing and driving sales. People are now buying directly through social media with 8 in 10 Instagram users discovering new products or services on the platform. However, for some business owners, the idea of pivoting to online retail can seem daunting. Through the Boost with Facebook programme, we will offer 10,000 small businesses in Ireland free training that will provide them with the digital skills to compete in what is a rapidly changing marketplace. This builds on our support for SMEs in 2020 which included providing €4.6 million to SMEs across Ireland.”
Irish businesses interested in registering for Boost with Facebook, free digital skills training can register by visiting www.facebook.com/irelandboost
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