A programme to support returning emigrants to start and develop their own businesses in Ireland has been launched by the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade.

The Back for Business entrepreneur mentoring programme, funded by the department, runs over six months and there is no charge for those selected to participate.

The programme was run on a pilot basis last year to support entrepreneurial activity among those recently returned or planning to return to live and set up a business in Ireland.

The closing date for applications for the 2019 programme is 25 January next, and the programme will run from February to July next year.

Those selected 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.

Back for Business is specifically designed for recently returned emigrants who have lived abroad for at least a year and have returned in the last three years, however, those planning to return in the near future will also be considered. 

Last year the 38 participants on the pilot programme reported positive results and at the end of the six-month period over half of them were trading.

Launching the programme, Minister of State for the Diaspora Ciaran Cannon said: "Global Irish – Ireland’s Diaspora Policy, is committed to facilitating, in practical ways, those who left Ireland and want to return home. Back for Business reflects this commitment.

"More and more Irish emigrants are returning home to Ireland to live and to work and as we have seen in the pilot, this is an initiative that can make a real difference to returned and returning emigrants who have a keen desire and ambition to be entrepreneurs."