Friday, January 22, 2021

By Elizabeth Lee

THE call is open for a free initiative to help returned emigrants to Carlow 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 on 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.

There is no charge for those selected to participate. The closing date for applications is next Monday 25 January. 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

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.

Thirty-four participants, who had spent an average of seven years out of Ireland, completed Back for Business 3. Networking and re-establishing contacts were the barriers most frequently cited by applicants, when asked about the challenges of returning from abroad to develop a business in Ireland.

Back for Business has been designed and is being implemented by Fitzsimons Consulting, specialists in areas related to entrepreneurship and growth.

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

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