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Minister Brophy launches ‘Back for Business’ support programme for returning emigrants to Ireland

Today Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora, Colm Brophy T.D. launched the ‘Back for Business’ programme and a call for applicants for this free initiative to help returned emigrants start and develop businesses in Ireland.

In its fifth year, the Back for Business developmental programme is funded from the Government’s Emigrant Support Programme, and was established to foster and support entrepreneurial activity among emigrants returning to live in Ireland.

The call is open today for applications for the 2022 programme and will run from the end of February to June 2022. Up to 50 people will be offered places with no charge for those selected to participate and the closing date for applications is Tuesday, February 15th, 2022.

Launching the call for applicants today, Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora, Colm Brophy T.D.  said:

The Government is committed to supporting our citizens who are coming back to Ireland. Returning emigrants bring a wealth of experience and ideas and I welcome the contribution they can make to our national prosperity. 

Back for Business has been a great success in supporting new businesses being started by returning emigrants throughout Ireland. Past participants have made significant progress and I am proud of their achievements. Their new businesses generate economic activity and additional employment across the country.

I welcome the establishment of a Back for Business Community which offers additional support to past participants to further develop their new enterprises.

Back for Business presents a great opportunity for Irish citizens returning to Ireland, who wish to tap into their entrepreneurial potential. I would encourage all those eligible to apply.”

Participants on last year’s programme more than tripled their combined workforce and more than doubled their turnover during the six-month cycle of the programme – despite the restrictions placed on businesses as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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 and formerly of Eishtec; Paul Duggan of The Gardiner Group; Seamus Reilly, co- founder and formerly of Critical Healthcare; and Thomas Ennis, founder of the Thomas Ennis Group. 

Áine Denn, one of the ‘Back for Business’ voluntary Lead Entrepreneurs said:

“It is terrific to meet so many with real entrepreneurial flair determined to create new businesses on their return to Ireland. Starting a new business while moving home is not easy. I am delighted to give my time to supporting these brave entrepreneurs” 

Thomas Ennis, another of the ‘Back for Business’ voluntary Lead Entrepreneurs said:

“I was lucky enough to receive excellent mentoring when I was starting out and it made all the difference. It is great to be in a position to give back and to support those at the start of their entrepreneurial journey.” 

Those selected to join ‘Back for Business 5’ will take part in round table sessions, focused on goals and milestones, which are facilitated by voluntary Lead Entrepreneurs, who have experience of successfully starting and growing a business.

The deadline for completed applications for Back to Business is Tuesday, February 15th, 2022. For more information or to register your interest in receiving an application form, please see


Press Office

04 January 2022

Note for Editors

  • About Back for Business

‘Back for Business’ was designed and developed for the Department of Foreign Affairs by Paula Fitzsimons of Fitzsimons Consulting. This is the fifth year of the programme. It was designed for Irish emigrants who have lived abroad for at least a year and have returned to Ireland in the last three years or are planning to return in the near future.

The support initiative addresses the challenges that all early-stage entrepreneurs encounter, whose personal and professional networks in Ireland have weakened since they have been abroad and their knowledge of the entrepreneurial eco system is not well developed. The programme also focuses on the additional barriers faced by those who have been living outside Ireland for some years.

‘Back for Business’ was designed by Fitzsimons Consulting, specialists in areas related to entrepreneurship and growth. For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact Paula Fitzsimons on +353 87 2774385 or Martha Kearns at StoryLab on +353 87 2720212

  • Eligibility criteria

Applicants will (i) have recently started a new business in Ireland, either on their own or with another business partner, or (ii) will be well advanced in their plans to start a business and have moved well beyond the concept stage, 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 2019.

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 focused. 

  • Lead Entrepreneurs

This year’s Lead Entrepreneurs are listed in the release above. Mini bios of the Lead Entrepreneurs may be found on the website

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