Online business support programme launched to help SMEs overcome business challenges

Thursday, 17 September 2020

MentorsWork, an initiative of Skillnet Ireland and the Small Firms Association (SFA), to support business recovery and deliver long-term growth for SMEs
    • MentorsWork initiative offers expert business mentoring and targeted upskilling supports to SMEs on key business challenges, developing pathways to recovery
    • MentorsWork four key pillars - People, Finance and Growth, Digitalisation and Automation and Business Processes
    • The new phase of the MentorsWork initiative has a longer-term focus for SMEs, to help them thrive, by addressing the specific needs of individual business.
    • Free places available to support SMEs operating across Ireland in all business sectors

Skillnet Ireland in partnership with the Small Firms Association (SFA), has today launched a new phase of the MentorsWork initiative aimed at guiding Irish SMEs through their current business challenges towards stabilisation and recovery, six months on from the outbreak of Covid-19. MentorsWork is also supported by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and Microfinance Ireland.

The MentorsWork eight-week business support programme is free to SMEs nationwide and is designed to provide the skills and supports to help business owner-managers sustain and improve their business. The programme offers integrated learning supports across four key pillars; People, Finance and Growth, Digitalisation and Automation and Business Processes, all which help businesses to adapt and thrive by improving skills and competencies.

MentorsWork will connect business owners and managers across Ireland with experienced and skilled business mentors to address specific business issues on a one-to-one basis. The programme also offers specialist masterclasses and access to a bespoke online learning platform specially designed for SMEs.

Minister of State for Skills and Further Education, Niall Collins, T.D., said: The development of a highly skilled workforce and supporting our vital SME base is a key objective for the Government. MentorsWork from Skillnet Ireland offers SMEs expert support in overcoming current challenges and achieving their full potential. I would urge every small and medium sized enterprise to participate in these supports which are delivered by industry for industry.

Skillnet Ireland Chief Executive Paul Healy said, “The Covid-19 crisis has brought significant challenges for businesses. Working with the SFA, we want to support businesses to navigate the challenges they are facing by offering them supports that are targeted at their specific needs. The opportunity to gain expert advice and insight through the MentorsWork programme is essential to drive sustainable long-term recovery across the SME sector.”

Launching MentorsWork, Graham Byrne, SFA Chair, said: “MentorsWork is an initiative led by the SFA, in partnership with Skillnet Ireland, and designed in consultation with Irish businesses. Together we want to meet the needs of SMEs and offer them our full support at this challenging time.

We are delighted to have developed a programme that not only connects vastly experienced mentors with businesses to affect real change, but also incorporates expert-led workshops, access to a self-paced learning portal and the development of a bespoke business plan. We are calling on SMEs, across Ireland, to sign up and avail of this opportunity to seek expert advice, free of charge, to help their business not only adapt but thrive.”

Gina Murphy, owner of Hugo’s restaurant Merrion Row, has previously participated in the programme, “As a business owner, you’re expected to be a leader, but nothing prepares you to lead during a global pandemic. I needed someone to advise me and offer reassurance that I was taking the right next steps. The help and guidance provided through MentorsWork was fantastic – the fact that someone was listening and providing practical advice that I could implement right away made a huge difference. As a business we now have a plan to get back up and running.”


With up to 300 places available in this new phase of the scheme, the MentorsWork initiative is open to SME business owners and leaders operating across Ireland and in all sectors of the economy. The programme is free of charge and open to private sector businesses that employ between 5-250 people.

Business owners and managers can apply to participate in MentorsWork at www.mentorswork.ie

Photo: Liz Thomas, Strategic Projects, Skillnet Ireland; Niall Collins, T.D., Minister of State for Skills and Further Education; Michael O’Malley Hugo’s Restaurant; Paul Healy, Chief Executive, Skillnet Ireland and Graham Byrne, Small Firms Association (SFA) Chair.

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