Coming back for business
Returning emigrants can now avail of a state funded mentoring support programme in setting up their own business, as two North Cork entrepreneurs have already found
For any emigrant returning home from abroad the first question is 'what are your plans?'.
This is something that Brian Carey of Mallow and Martina O'Riordan, Kilbrin faced when they returned home in recent years and their stories are now helping other returning emigrants.
Both took part in an initiative to help returning emigrants start and develop their businesses, the 'Back for Business' entrepreneur mentoring programme', which ran for six months.
The programme is funded by the Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade and there is no charge for those selected to participate. 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 call is now open for applications for the 2019 programme, which will run from February until July.
Brian returned from Asia to set up CareerVim, which is an interactive tool to allow companies demonstrate a transparent career path to employees. He also runs CoWork, which is a co-working space in Mallow based at O'Brien Street, in the same building where his late father, Eugene, was a well known legal eagle for many years.
Brian had worked for 12 years in the oil and gas industry, which took him to Europe, Africa, America and South East Asia where he held roles in business development and project management. It was the grá for Mallow and family which brought him back home. For him, there is an "emotional connection" to the town and there is nowhere else he would want to raise his family.
Brian said the Back for Business programme helped his business become a "revenue generating company in six months."
Prior to undertaking the programme he was already working professionally and was confident with his business.
However, he did point out that for someone who is working abroad and who returns back to Ireland and if they don't have a strong business network or if they have a business idea but are unsure what next to do, the programme is ideal.
"I met some really good people through the programme and prior to me doing the course my business was already reasonably advanced. However, networking certainly helps a business as does the exposure of a business," he said.
Kilbrin native Martina O'Riordan runs MartinO, which is a wedding planning company and is, coincidentally, based at CoWork in Mallow.
Martina told The Corkman that she returned home two years ago after six years in Sydney, where she worked in events and marketing. Martina has over 10 years experience and has a Business degree and a Diploma in Wedding & Event planning.
When asked why she returned home to set up her own business, she said that it was simply the pull of home and family made her make the move.
"I was at the stage where I was a senior leader in my job and I knew I wanted to set up my own business. While it would have without question been easier to set up in Sydney, where I had a strong and robust network, I just knew deep down that I wanted to come home and so I did," said Martina.
"I love my family and I knew that I could get support and I just love Ireland and knew that I wanted to bring people here for their wedding and to see all that we have. Despite being at home for two years, I am still beaming at being back.
"As I live in Kilbrin, it is so central to me, whether it is going to Cork, Killarney or Limerick," she said.
Prior to Sydney, she had lived in Dublin for five years so when she returned back to Rebel soil she found her network was in short supply.
"I really enjoyed the course as I found that when I came back I had been gone for so long that I had to start networking. I really learnt a lot from the programme and, luckily enough, my business was already up and running. But what the programme really did provide was a huge mix of people who were either at the idea stage of their business or else their business idea was progressing but hadn't yet gone live," she said.
Martina's clients at present are either Irish couples who are living abroad and want to have their wedding day back in Ireland, or else American couples who also want to mark their very special day.
"I am 100% delighted that I returned home and don't have any regrets," said Martina who added that she found the mentoring in the programme excellent.
According to the Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the programme is specifically designed for recently returning emigrants who have lived abroad for at least a year and have returned in the last three years. However, those planning on returning in the near future will also be considered.
Those interested in the programme this year must apply before January 25 and should visit www.backforbusiness.com.