Bank of Ireland has launched its second National Enterprise Week which will feature more than 60 tailored advice seminars along with showcasing opportunities in branches for business owners, taking place across its retail branch network from Monday May 24 to Friday May 28. The week long initiative, which is open to both customers and non-customers, is being held as part of the bank’s ongoing commitment to actively support business recovery in the SME sector by providing them with the necessary financial support and practical advice during the current challenging trading environment.
This two-stranded approach aims to provide advice events for businesses with an opportunity to meet with leading industry experts, and learn from their experiences, while the ‘Show your Business’ element will give businesses a platform on which to promote their products/services in bank branches to a new marketplace and to network with other businesses which face similar challenges. The initiative has been recognised as part of European SME Week 2010, which takes place across Europe between May 25 and June 1.
The advice events will take the format of breakfast briefings, enterprise evenings, presentations, and seminars, on themes such as ‘Starting/Maintaining – Getting the most out of your business’, ‘Succeeding in a challenging environment’, ‘Combating the recession’, and ‘Diversifying your business in challenging times’. A variety of speakers will discuss topics such as credit management, overhead control, going green, employment law, and company tax. Speakers will include local business service providers (accountants and solicitors ), successful local entrepreneurs, industry experienced panellists who operate the bank’s independent mentoring service, and Enterprise Builder, alongside senior management from various parts of the business.
A large networking event will take place in The Ardilaun in Galway on Thursday, May 27. Donal Flynn, regional manager – west, Bank of Ireland, will perform the opening remarks and introductions. Guest speakers include Neil Hughes, a corporate recovery specialist with Hughes Blake chartered accountants based in Dublin and Enniscorthy. Mr Hughes who has recently published his book Beating the Recession – The Seven Cs of Business Recovery, will present on ‘Beating the Recession’.
Declan Flood from Irish Credit Management Training will talk about ‘Managing your Cashflow’. The evening will close with a workshop hosted by Robert Grealis, regional director of the bank’s independent mentoring service, Enterprise Builder, where attendees will have the opportunity to interact with some of the mentors on how best to run their business.
A selection of businesses exhibiting in branches in the city include:
Eyre Square: Anthony Ryan department store, Proof Design Products, and Irish Bullion and Glass Art Design.
Mervue Industrial Estate: Michael Flaherty from Rainwater and MotorSport Academy.
Mainguard Street: Essential Health.
Salthill: Mortons gourmet supermarket, beauty products from SeaVite, and Kennelly’s pharmacy.
“The extensive positive feedback we received from businesses and local communities following the inaugural event last year and the two subsequent ‘Show your Business’ weeks held in October and December, served to highlight the importance of continuing to offer tangible advice and information to SMEs, along with supporting the financial needs of sustainable and viable businesses through these challenging times,” said Denis Kennedy, commercial manager at Bank of Ireland Eyre Square.
“Recent research we conducted with our branch managers/business advisors indicated that progressive and more innovative businesses that have adapted their business to changes in the marketplace as early as possible, are the businesses who are best positioned for an upturn in the economy. It also highlighted that many customers still perceive credit as unobtainable, as many have expressed surprise when their applications were approved. Our message is that if you are a viable business, ie, have a good business plan, sound knowledge of your market, and have the capacity to meet repayments, we will support you financially.
“Our commitment to the SME sector remains steadfast,” Mr Kennedy added. “We continue to approve four out of every five loan applications received. Our approval rate has been consistently around 80 per cent over the past three years, albeit against the backdrop of a reduced number of applications. In the first four months of 2010 we approved approximately €1 billion of facilities for our SME customers and continue to provide overdraft facilities to the value of €2.2bn. While usage of these overdraft facilities will fluctuate on a daily basis, on any given day average usage is less than €1.1bn. This means that over half of the overdrafts we approve for our SME customers are not being utilised. We have a number of specialist funds available to small businesses and we have given a commitment to Government to make €3 billion in new lending facilities available to this sector this year and in 2011.
“A key focus for us is supporting customers in difficulty. Given the challenging conditions, we have undertaken an internal restructuring, and our most experienced bankers are now working to help and support these customers. We have made available significant additional resources to implement our early intervention initiative, which is a pro-active contact programme with customers where a deteriorating trend is emerging in the operation of their bank accounts. Our objective is to work out a structured proposal to help them address the issue. As always, we would ask customers to come to us as informed as possible regarding their current financial position and the potential implications of any issue identified for the business.”
For the most up to date information on events taking place across the country during National Enterprise Week visit www.bankofireland.ie/business (click on business events ) or contact your local branch.