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Business & Professional

Returned emigrants urged to join new business programme

Wednesday, 16th January, 2019 4:46pm

A new initiative to help returning emigrants start and develop businesses in Ireland is looking for participants from Cork to apply before the deadline of Friday 25 January.

The Back for Business entrepreneur mentoring programme runs over six months and is free for those selected to participate.

It is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was launched before Christmas by Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development Ciarán Cannon.

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. The 2019 programme will run from February to July 2019.

Two past Cork participants are Brian Carey and Martina O’Riordan and they are positive about their experience and have said that other people should apply for the programme.

Brian Carey returned from Asia to set up CareerVim, which is an interactive tool to allow companies demonstrate a transparent career path to employees. Brian, who also runs CoWork, co-working space in Mallow, with his brother Myles, said: “Back for Business helped my business become a revenue-generating company in six months.”

Martina O’Riordan runs, MartinaO, a wedding planning company, and is coincidentially based at CoWork, in Mallow.

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.

People can download a brochure and register interest in receiving an application form from

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, they 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.

Last year, the 38 participants on the pilot programme, which ran from November 2017 to May 2018, reported positive results on the programme.

- At the end of the six months programme, over half of them were trading

- Six had become exporters for the first time

- 46 people were employed between them

- 100 per cent said they would recommend the programme to others

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 and milestones 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; technology entrepreneur and angel investor Mary McKenna; Micheal Hoyne, founder of Merlyn Bathrooms; Nikki Evans, founder of PerfectCard and Thomas Ennis, founder of the Thomas Ennis Group.

Julie Currid, one of the lead entrepreneurs who worked in London before returning to Ireland to co-found Initiafy with her business partner, commented: “Working abroad opened my eyes to the size of potential markets for an Irish headquartered business.”

When launching the programme, Minister Cannon said: “Global Irish – Ireland’s Diaspora Policy, is committed to facilitating, in practical ways, those who left Ireland and want to return home. 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.”

The deadline for completed applications for Back to Business is 25 January. For more information or to register your interest in receiving an application form, see

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