Seán O’Mahony, The Autistic Baker; Kate Gaffney, Múin Education Ltd; Sadhbh Warren, Red Rock Writing and content creator Paddy Smyth , speaking at the event hosted by Local Enterprise Office Cork City and the Crann Centre. Photo: Clare Keogh

Crann Centre highlight business supports

By Ellen O'Brien

A recent event hosted during Local Enterprise Week shone a light on possible opportunities in self-employment for people with disabilities.

The aim of the event, which was hosted by the Crann Centre and the Local Enterprise Office in Cork city, highlighted the supports available for any person with a disability who wishes to start their own business. The Crann Centre wanted to create an increased awareness of the skill set that they can bring to a business.

CEO of the Crann Centre, Padraig Mallon said: “People with disabilities in Ireland are half as likely to be employed as people without a visible disability and that needs to change. If self-employment, enterprise and innovation is an option for anybody then it should be an option for a person with a disability as well.”

He also outlined the importance of having this event: “The conversation needs to happen, people need to see it as a viable option for them and all of the barriers that take away that opportunity need to be worked on. And it needs an inter-agency approach which we saw here at this event.”

Paddy Symth, a content creator and TV personality, was the keynote speaker at the event and told those in attendance that he did not allow his disability to prevent him achieving his goals.

Seán O’Mahony was also amongst the speakers. He set up his own business The Autistic Baker in May 2021 after developing a passion for baking during the Covid lockdown. He said: “For me I have felt included by the people that support me everyday - my family, second family at Rainbow Club and Youth Reach. Inclusion is about accepting me for who I am, understanding my needs and recognising I see the world through a different lens. If you accept, understand and support me then I am included and that makes me feel accepted.”

Attendees also heard from Kate Gaffney of Múin Education Ltd and Sadhbh Warren of Red Rock Writing. Trainer and mentor Veronica Murphy shared her top tips to start a business while Dermot Crosby of the Department of Social Protection gave an overview of supports for jobseekers with disabilities interested in self-employment.

Dr Niall O’Keeffe, Head of Enterprise at the Local Enterprise Office Cork City, said: “We were delighted to partner with the Crann Centre for this really important event. No one should be prevented from setting up their own business and it is crucial that anyone with a start-up idea is given equal opportunities in terms of supports, grants and advice.

“We want people with a disability to know that they can contact their Local Enterprise Office if they want to set up their own company or if they are at a point where they need assistance to take them to the next stage in their entrepreneurial journey.”