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MoS Ciarán Cannon,TD, Back for Business launch event, Iveagh House

I’m delighted to have this opportunity to welcome you to Iveagh House for the launch event for Back for Business 2020. The symbolism of the use of Iveagh House for an event which celebrates the successful return of our emigrant population as business founders and investors in our communities is worth noting – this venue has served on many occasions for state functions, including the 1963 State Dinner for the visit of President John F. Kennedy, perhaps the most famous member of the Irish Diaspora. It has also repeatedly hosted trade events, most recently hosting the Brexit Stakeholder Forum, which has met 22 times in this room to ensure that businesses and Government are working together to address the challenges posed to our economy by Brexit. This partnership between the Government and business is a critical element of our successful economy. The Back for Business programme links both our wish to support our Diaspora, including their successful return to Ireland, and our ongoing engagement with business and our desire to support new entrepreneurs across Ireland.

Back for Business has been designed to provide a welcome back in a practical manner to support early stage entrepreneurs as they put firm foundations in place to establish a sustainable business, capable of further development and growth. This is the third year in which the initiative is being run. The last two years have been very successful with new business established, additional sales generated, some of which are in export markets and new jobs have been created.

There are five Back for Business Lead Entrepreneurs involved this year – Aine Denn, Michael Hoyne and Thomas Ennis, who were involved in previous cycles and Brian Crowley and Morgan Browne who are becoming Lead Entrepreneurs for the first time. All are volunteering their valuable time and are prepared to give back in a spirit of altruism.

It is great to see some of the past participants from previous cycles being invited by Michael Hoyne to join a further development round table. They can give a first-hand account of the way Back for Business was able to support them. Tracy Armstrong and Shayne Murphy will tell their entrepreneurial story later in the morning.

Thirty-five of those who applied for participation in this cycle have been selected by the Lead Entrepreneurs and invited to join their round tables. On average you have spent 9 years out of Ireland. I’m delighted to welcome you back from all over the world – from Australia and New Zealand, from across Europe, from Russia, from Canada and the US, from the Middle East, from the Far East and South East Asia, and even from the Caribbean. You are returning to your own communities across Ireland from Galway to Dublin, Donegal to Kerry across to Waterford and through the Midlands. Between you, you possess a wealth of talent and experience. You are starting new businesses in a variety of sectors. All of you have indicated that you expect to be employers and the majority of you expect to have customers in overseas markets in the next three years.

Like the participants in the previous cycles, the number one challenge for you as participants in Back for Business 3 are challenges around networking and re-establishing contact. This is a barrier unique to returning emigrants. Through Back for Business, you will take first steps in building a strong network of likeminded individuals who share experience of living overseas, of returning home and of starting a new business.

Back for Business has made arrangements with the Irish International Business Network - IIBN , which my Department also supports, to provide one year membership to you all. Ailbhe Mullen representing IIBN is joining us here today.

I am pleased that there is now an excellent entrepreneurial eco system and variety of supports available to early stage entrepreneurs in Ireland. You will receive a booklet outlining the supports available at this session. These supports will be brought to life on 3rd April at a specially tailored Support Day. At that event, you will have the opportunity in the morning to hear from and meet representatives of the various development agencies and other relevant bodies, including Microfinance Ireland and the Credit Review Office, as well as an opportunity to participate in one of three workshops covering: Strategy, Legal or PR. All are being run by experts in their field, who are volunteering their time to support you.

One thing that is vital for all entrepreneurs is that they must get the financial fundamentals and tax matters right from the start. Otherwise all your effort and hard work can be wasted. I want to thank Gavin Sheehan and Sinead Kelly from KPMG who have increased their support to Back for Business each year since the pilot and this year are proposing to run two workshops on tax and financial management/ funding for the new business on 24th March. All of their time and expertise are volunteered, which I appreciate very much.

You have all been successful overseas and you are committed to the success of your new businesses and your new lives in Ireland. Through supporting each other and working with your Lead Entrepreneurs in a collaborative and confidential peer support network, I believe that by the end of the six month cycle, you will all have experienced real progress - new sales won, new jobs created and a productive and satisfying return to your homeland. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you every success.

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