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Minister Cannon announces new initiative to support returning emigrants to start & develop business


Minister Cannon announces an exciting new initiative to support returning emigrants to start and develop business



Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Ciarán Cannon T.D. has today launched Back for Business, an exciting new initiative to support entrepreneurial activity among emigrants returning or recently returned to live in Ireland. This six month part time development programme is aimed at assisting returning emigrants to start or develop businesses by addressing the challenges that all early stage entrepreneurs face, with a particular focus on the additional barriers and challenges faced by those who have been out of the country for some time.   The call for applications is now open and those interested in learning more can download the brochure from the website and register their interest in receiving an application form -  The closing date for receipt of fully completed application forms is Tuesday 31 October 2017.


Back for Business will run from November 2017 to May 2018. As the initiative is fully funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, there is no charge to those who are selected to participate.  Announcing the initiative Minister Cannon said:


I am delighted that my Department is supporting this exciting new initiative, Back for Business.  Irish people who have travelled, or spent a number of years out of the country, often have exceptional entrepreneurial skills.  The challenge is to maximize this potential for the benefit of the individuals returning and their families and also for the benefit of the communities in which they will locate across the country’. 


For returning potential entrepreneurs, time spent out of the country can often result in their local knowledge, contact base and professional and personal networks being less developed than those of typical entrepreneurs. Back for Business is designed to bridge this gap. 


This pilot initiative is based on peer support and an applied learning model. It involves entrepreneurs supporting entrepreneurs meeting in round table sessions, focused on goals and milestones and facilitated by volunteer Lead Entrepreneurs, who have experience of successfully starting and growing a business.  This approach is well proven as being effective in bringing about increased motivation and confidence among entrepreneurs and having a positive impact on their enterprise development.


Back for Business has been designed specifically for returning emigrants who have lived abroad for at least a year and are planning to return or have returned to Ireland in the last three years. These will be men and women of different ages and experience who have lived in different parts of the world and are returning to Ireland for different reasons. Their experience of living and working abroad will often bring significant advantages for starting a business, such as having a strong network of international contacts, fluency in foreign languages and greater cultural understanding of foreign markets. 


James Murphy, Lifes2Good, one of the Back to Business volunteer Lead Entrepreneurs has had experience of living and working in Europe before returning to Ireland: “Working overseas and with people who think differently made me more creative and courageous."  Another of the Lead Entrepreneurs, Julie Currid, Initiafy, shares this positive view of the entrepreneurial benefits of being a returning emigrant: “Working abroad opened my eyes to the size of potential markets for an Irish headquartered business."


Back for Business reflects the commitment made by the Government in Global Irish – Ireland’s Diaspora Policy to facilitate, in practical ways, those who left Ireland and want to return home. Minister Cannon commented:


I am very obliged to those successful entrepreneurs who are making their time available, on a voluntary basis, through Back for Business, to support returning emigrants who have a keen desire and ambition to be entrepreneurs.”


The cycle gets underway on 27 November.  Over the course of the six month programme, areas covered in the round table sessions will include Understanding and Developing your Business, incorporating vision, goals, KPIs; Knowing and Reaching Your Customer; Finance and Your Business; Roadmap to Progress your Business; SMART Planning.  The entrepreneurs will be supported to address the challenges they face in progressing their business ideas and explore how best to start, develop and position their business for sustainability and growth.


Back for Business has been designed and is being implemented by Fitzsimons Consulting, specialists in areas related to entrepreneurship and growth. Paula Fitzsimons, founder and managing director of Fitzsimons Consulting, said: ‘Those who have had experience abroad and are returning to live in Ireland are extremely well placed to become an entrepreneur by either starting a new business or by acquiring a business already established. Back for Business is about helping them to achieve their entrepreneurial ambitions. I am delighted that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has made this possible’.


The deadline for applications for Back for Business is Tuesday 31 October 2017 – interested applicants can register their interest and access full information at

For more information contact:
Paula Fitzsimons, Director, Back for Business
Tel: 087 2774385


Please note photos will be sent to Picture Desks.



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Suitable Applicants for Back for Business

Back for Business is for returning emigrants who have lived abroad for at least a year and are planning to return or have returned to Ireland in the last three years.  Suitable applicants will be:

  • actively planning a business or will have recently started a new business in Ireland, either on their own or with another business partner or (ii) they are becoming/have become entrepreneurs through the acquisition of an existing business.
  • If the business is newly established, it will not have generated sales before the end of May 2015.
  •  If acquired, it will not have been acquired before this date.
  • In respect of the business whether new or acquired, they will be a major shareholder and key decision maker in the venture. Furthermore, they will have the ambition and expectation of becoming an employer of others within three years.
  •  There is no restriction on the sector in which the new business is focussed. 


Lead Entrepreneurs

The Back for Business Lead Entrepreneurs are contributing their time on a voluntary basis:

  • Áine Denn
  • James Murphy
  • John O’Hare
  • Julie Currid
  • Mary McKenna
  • Tom Brennan
  • Chris Winning – Special Advisor on Matters pertaining to Relocation and Returned Emigrants


See their profiles on