THE Irish Government has announced it will test-drive a €100,000 fund to support returning Irish who want to set up a business in Ireland.
The fund, announced by Diaspora Minister Joe McHugh on behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), is an "important new initiative" in helping returning Irish in practical ways.
The programme will run for one year, at the end of which it'll be reviewed, measuring its impact.
The Government-funded €100,000 mentoring programme is for Irish people who have returned, or are planning to return, to Ireland for the long term.
Funding will be available to any recently returned Irish entrepreneurs across all fields.
The DFA said it would be opening a request for tenders for a service provider to deliver this new project in the coming days.
Minister McHugh said returning Irish have a lot to offer the community, but face challenges when doing so.
“I have met many Irish emigrants around the world who want to return home but are concerned about the challenges they face," he said.
"Research suggests that time spent living abroad improves capacity to succeed in creating and growing businesses. Yet returning emigrants face challenges unique to them in setting up business.
"These include gaps in personal and professional networks, support, and up-to-date local knowledge, which would be crucial to successful establishment of new businesses.
He added: “The programme will seek to attract applications from returning or recently returned emigrants with entrepreneurial ambition whether starting, partnering, acquiring or investing in existing businesses or playing an entrepreneurial role, advising and supporting innovation within existing businesses."
Conor Foley, CEO of the Irish International Business Network in London, welcomed the decision, adding that there a a benefit in mentoring programmes for new entrepreneurs.
"The IIBN operate a number of mentoring programs ourselves for Irish ex-pat entrepreneurs and we see first hand the benefit that programs of this nature have on the identification and creation of new business opportunities," he said.
"The pick-up in the Irish economy over the last few years is making Ireland once again a very attractive location in which to establish a business and this new program is sure to stimulate interest among successful Irish entrepreneurs overseas."