'I started from scratch with €72 in the bank' - Meet the award-winning entrepreneur who bounced back after the recession
A Dublin woman whose business struggled during the recession has bounced back to win a leading entrepreneurship award.
Helen Walsh has worked in the health and wellness industry for over 20 years, but needed to restart her business in 2014 after the economic downturn had left her struggling to get by.
She has now won the Best Female Entrepreneur award at last night’s Dublin Inner City Enterprise (ICE) awards.
"I had to come through a very bad recession," Walsh, who worked as a health and fitness coach, told Independent.ie. "I became a luxury item. Nobody wanted to spend money on those kinds of things so everything for me went belly up."
"I started from scratch with €72 in the bank and had to decide on what I wanted to do to move forward."
Walsh set up her business ‘Fitness, Wellness and Coaching’ with the help of Inner City Enterprise, which she believes gave her a new confidence and direction to get back on her feet.
"When you are coming from the place that I was coming from at that stage, your confidence goes," Walsh said.
"You’ve been knocked around and Inner City Enterprise say, 'You’ve got all these qualification and skills and we’re going to help you package them and put them out there in the right way'."
"With my coaching now, if people are stuck in their life we’ll sit down and I’ll help you come up with a plan. I feel because I’ve been there now I have the right to do that."
Since getting involved with Inner City Enterprise, Walsh says her business has gone "from strength to strength", and has since also started the ‘Pass It On’ scheme dedicated to collecting unwanted items to be donated to the homeless.
Walsh was one of three winners honoured at last night’s awards which were held at the Jameson Distillery.
Daniel Cantwell won the award for Best Male Entrepreneur for his post-production studio ‘Ben and Anvil’, while Russell Simmons was awarded best newcomer for his music collective ‘The Greedy Pig’.
Cantwell, who has since worked on projects with companies such as McDonalds and Bank of Ireland, talked about the challenges he first faced when setting up his own business.
"I came back from Belfast after doing productions such as ‘The Fall’ and some kids TV, but when I came back from Dublin I decided I just wanted to start on my own," Cantwell said.
"Inner City Enterprise helped a lot with the business plan and that side of things. I’m more of a technical person, but to be a business man and for them to help with accounts and stuff, all that stuff was really a problem to me with which they helped."
ICE was set up in 2011 as a non-profit organisation set up to assist unemployed people in Dublin’s inner city to create self-employment by setting up their own business.
Speaking at last night awards, ICE Chief Executive Officer Evanne Kilmurray spoke about how they started the awards to honour their most successful clients.
"This is to encourage the nominees tonight and to encourage others to apply further down the line," Kilmurray said.
"Our nominees tonight have shown sheer perseverance, determination and they’ve stayed on course even when it’s been tough going. They’re all winners tonight."
Guests in attendance at the ceremony included Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar, who was on hand to present awards to the winners.