South Tipperary Development Company (STDC) has worked extensively on developing the enterprise sector and in fostering the spirit of entrepreneurship in the county through a series of projects funded under the LEADER Rural Development Programme 2007-2013. Like many rural towns across Ireland, Tipperary Town has suffered greatly from the downturn in the economy and has a high unemployment rate. As part of its response to its economic difficulties, the town established an Economic Steering Group. This group was charged with developing a number of strategies that would help the town “get back on its feet”.

STDC approached the group with the idea of developing an “Apprentice Style” Entrepreneurship Competition.  The basic idea was to identify a group of 15 long-term unemployed, all of whom had a business idea.  The group was subjected to a rigorous classroom business training course.  As part of the course, all participants received one-to-one mentoring to enable them to research and develop their individual ideas with the support and guidance of their trainers, the animator and peer support. Each participant presented their business plan to a team of experts. The “Tipperary Entrepreneur of the Year” was selected at a Gala Event in 2013.

A number of successes were associated with the project including:

  • The programme can be easily replicated. STDC ran it with two other towns in the county
  • The project was a ‘good news story’ for Tipperary town with a lot of positivity developed

Photograph: Niamh O’Dwyer ó Organic Little One.