Irish Government to help returning emigrants to start up

17 Dec 2018

From left: Clare O’Connor, former participant of Back for Business; Thomas Ennis, lead entrepreneur at Thomas Ennis Group; and Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development Ciarán Cannon, TD. Image: Orla Murray/SON Photo

If you’re a returning emigrant who is Back for Business, here’s what you need to know.

The Government of Ireland has launched a Back for Business programme to support returning emigrants to start and develop businesses in Ireland.

Launched today (17 December) by the Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development Ciarán Cannon, TD, the Back for Business entrepreneur mentoring programme will run over six months.

‘This is an initiative that can make a real difference to returned and returning emigrants who have a keen desire and ambition to be entrepreneurs’

Funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, there is no charge for those selected to participate.

Back for Business is specifically designed for recently returned emigrants who have lived abroad for at least a year and have returned in the last three years. Those planning to return in the near future will also be considered.

Return of the natives

“Global Irish, Ireland’s Diaspora Policy, is committed to facilitating, in practical ways, those who left Ireland and want to return home,” Minister Cannon explained.

“Back for Business reflects this commitment. More and more Irish emigrants are returning home to Ireland to live and to work and, as we have seen in the pilot, this is an initiative that can make a real difference to returned and returning emigrants who have a keen desire and ambition to be entrepreneurs. It is designed to support them to go beyond just creating a job for themselves, and to aim higher and create a thriving business that can provide employment for others and value added in their local community.”

Cannon said that many potential entrepreneurs returning home can often bring with them significant advantages of starting a business, such as a strong network of international contacts, proficiency in foreign languages and a greater understanding of export markets. However, these entrepreneurs can also have gaps in their local knowledge, contact base, and professional and personal backgrounds. Back for Business is designed to bridge these gaps, while also addressing the general challenges all entrepreneurs face when establishing a business.

The programme was run on a pilot basis last year to support entrepreneurial activity among those recently returned or planning to return to live and set up business in Ireland. Out of 38 participants in the pilot, after six months half of them are trading, six have become exporters for the first time, around 46 jobs have been created and all who took part would recommend the programme to others.

“I found Back for Business helpful in giving me focus, keeping me on track and creating goals to bring me to the next level,” said Clare O’Connor, scarf designer. “I began the programme with ideas and samples. I am now trading with a luxury product on the market.”

Those selected to join Back for Business this year will take part in roundtable sessions focused on goals and milestones, and facilitated by voluntary lead entrepreneurs who have experience of successfully starting and growing a business. These high-profile business leaders volunteer their time to encourage participants to set and achieve personalised goals to address the opportunities and challenges they face in starting and developing their businesses.

This year’s lead entrepreneurs are: Áine Denn, co-founder of Altify; Julie Currid, co-founder of Initiafy; Mary McKenna, technology entrepreneur and angel investor; Micheal Hoyne, founder of Merlyn Bathrooms; Nikki Evans, founder of PerfectCard; and Thomas Ennis, founder of the Thomas Ennis Group.

The call is open today for applications for the 2019 programme, which will run from February to July 2019. The closing date for applications is 25 January. Those interested in learning more can download a brochure and register their interest in receiving an application here.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years