A Government funded initiative that provides free mentoring to returned or returning emigrants who want to start and develop a business here has opened a new call for applications.

Now it its fourth year, Back for Business has 50 places on offer for next year's programme running from February until July.

Backed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the programme was established to assist returning emigrants taking on the challenges of early stage entrepreneurship as well as the additional barriers faced by those who have been living outside the country for some time.

Its organisers say that past participants have recorded increased sales, created new jobs and won export contracts.

To qualify for the free tuition, applicants must have lived abroad for at least a year and have returned in the last three years, or they must be planning to come back to live in Ireland in the near future.

40 places will be available for first time participants, with 10 more going to those who had completed a previous cycle.

Those selected will participate in round table sessions facilitated by voluntary Lead Entrepreneurs, who have experience of successfully starting and growing a business.

The closing date for applications is January 25, 2020.