Skip to main content

Call for applications for Back for Business programme launched by Minister Ciarán Cannon T.D.

A call for applicants for an initiative to help returned emigrants start and develop businesses in Ireland has been launched today by Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development Ciarán Cannon T. D. This is the third year of the highly-successful Back for Business developmental programme, which is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


Launching the call for applicants today, Minister Ciarán Cannon T.D. said:


“Global Irish – Ireland’s Diaspora Policy, supports the successful return to Ireland of our Diaspora. Back for Business is a practical measure to implement this commitment. This programme can make a real difference to returned and returning emigrants, who want to establish new businesses in Ireland. The successful delivery of this programme will enable these entrepreneurs to build new businesses and contribute to our economy and society.”


The initiative was established to support entrepreneurial activity among returned emigrants who have lived abroad for at least a year and have returned in the last three years. Those planning to return in the near future will also be considered.


The call is open today for applications for the 2020 programme, which will run from January to July 2020. There is no charge for those selected to participate and the closing date for applications is January 7, 2020. Those interested in learning more can download a brochure and register their interest in receiving an application form from


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:


Potential entrepreneurs returning home can often bring significant advantages such as a strong network of international contacts, proficiency in foreign languages and a greater understanding of export markets.


“However, they can also have gaps in their knowledge of the supports and the well-developed entrepreneurial ecosystem available to early stage entrepreneurs. Their professional and personal networks in Ireland have been adversely affected given the years that they have spent out of the country. Back for Business is designed to bridge these gaps, while also addressing the general challenges that all entrepreneurs face when establishing a business. I am delighted that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has made this possible.”


Last year, the 38 participants on the second year of the programme reported positive results, including:

  • ·         Turnover for all participants combined increased by over 70% during the six months of the programme to a total of €1.3m
  • ·         A total of 48 new jobs were created by the participants who now employ 89 people between them
  • ·         92% said they felt nearer to achieving their ambitions having participated.



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


This year’s Lead Entrepreneurs are: Áine Denn, co-founder of Altify; Brian Crowley, Broadlake and founder of TTM Healthcare; Gillian O’Dowd, co-founder of Azon Recruitment Group; Micheal Hoyne, founder of Merlyn Showering; Nikki Evans, founder of PerfectCard; and Thomas Ennis, founder of the Thomas Ennis Group.


The deadline for completed applications for Back to Business is January 7, 2020. For more information or to register your interest in receiving an application form, please see


For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact Paula Fitzsimons on +353 87
2774385 or Martha Kearns at StoryLab on +353 87 2720212



Press Office
11 November 2019



  • ·         About Back for Business
    Back for Business is 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. It was designed and developed by Paula Fitzsimons of Fitzsimons Consulting. This is the third year of the programme.
    • ·        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 the end of October 2017

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

Mini bios of the Lead Entrepreneurs may be found on the website




« Previous Item | Next Item »