THE call is open for applicants for a free initiative to help returned emigrants to Cork start and develop businesses in Ireland.
This is the fourth year of the highly-successful Back for Business developmental programme, which is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Past participants in the first three years of the programme have recorded increased sales, created new jobs, and won export contracts. The combined turnover of the 2020 group tripled during the programme – despite the Covid pandemic.
The Back for Business initiative was established to foster and support entrepreneurial activity among returned emigrants or those returning to live in Ireland. It addresses the challenges that all early-stage entrepreneurs encounter — as well as the additional barriers faced by those who have been living outside the country for some time.
Back for Business is aimed at those who have lived abroad for at least a year and have returned in the last three years or those planning to return to live in Ireland in the near future.
The call is open for applications for the 2021 programme, which will run from February to July 2021. There is no charge for those selected to participate.
The closing date for applications is January 25. There are places this year for up to 40 entrepreneurs to participate for the first time in Back for Business, with an additional ten places being made available on a further development phase for those who completed a cycle previously. Those interested in learning more can download a brochure and register their interest in receiving an application form by logging onto www.backforbusiness.com
Past participants from Cork include Marian Murphy who returned from the UK to set up her own social media training and consultancy agency, Flourish with Social Media. Marian’s aim is to empower businesses to use social media to their maximum advantage.
Marian said: “Back for Business was a fantastic programme to be involved with. It helped me really think about how I want to develop my business and having the opinions of the participants feeding into my thought process was so valuable. I feel I have a clear vision for how I want to develop the business now which is very different from my plan going into the programme.”
The Lead Entrepreneurs, who participate in a voluntary capacity, are the backbone of the Back for Business initiative. This year’s Lead Entrepreneurs are Áine Denn, co-founder and formerly of Altify; Heather Reynolds, co-founder of Eishtec, which has been acquired by Infosys BPM; Nikki Evans, founder of PerfectCard, now part of EML Payments; Thomas Ennis, founder of the Thomas Ennis Group and Susan Spence, co-founder and President of SoftCo.
Those selected to join Back for Business this year will take part in round table sessions, focused on goals and milestones, and facilitated by voluntary Lead Entrepreneurs, who have experience of successfully starting and growing a business.
Speaking at the launch of the call for the new cycle of the programme, Colm Brophy T.D. Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora said:
“I am proud of the achievements of the many start-up businesses which have participated in the Back for Business programme. Returning emigrants bring a wealth of experience and ideas on their return to Ireland, many of which are hugely beneficial to us. The Government is committed to supporting our citizens who are coming back to Ireland, and I welcome the contribution they can make to our national prosperity.
“Back for Business has been a great success in developing new businesses throughout Ireland in recent years, supporting start-up enterprises which provide investment and employment across the country. I welcome this opportunity for Irish citizens returning to Ireland to participate in this programme and look forward to their future success.”
Back for Business has been designed and is being implemented by Fitzsimons Consulting, specialists in areas related to entrepreneurship and growth. For more info or to register your interest in receiving an application form, please see www.backforbusiness.com.