Rural Youth Entrepreneurs Connect at International Conference

Other NI News

Celebrating young rural entrepreneurs was the focus of an international conference held recently at the CREST Centre in Enniskillen as the RYE Connect Programme showcased the support it can offer to young individuals keen to consider self-employment.

The RYE Connect Programme is a transnational entrepreneurship support programme for young people aged between 16 – 30 years. The programme is being delivered on a partnership basis across the Northern Periphery and Arctic region. It is funded by the Northern Periphery and Artic Programme through the European Regional Development Fund and is also supported by the DAERA Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Programme.

The focus of the Programme is on undertaking outreach activities to engage young people in rural areas to consider the potential of starting their own business or expanding an existing business through workshops, networking and interactive online tools. To date the Programme has assisted almost 500 young people.

Further workshops have been planned, with sessions scheduled to take place in Cookstown during August. These sessions are targeted to those who have a business idea and require further support to develop the idea.

The Programme has also formed a network of support across the Northern Periphery and Arctic region with project partners involving Greenland Business, two agencies from Northern Ireland, Advantage and the Rural Development Council (RDC) and is led by Kajaani University of Applied Sciences (KUAS) in Finland. The Programme also engages with a wider Associate Network spanning the Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) region. This network ensures a strong supportive structure for young entrepreneurs across the region.

Speaking about the Programme, Olga Gallagher, RDC, said “The practical tools and methods being developed and rolled out, are based on the knowledge and experience which evolved from the former RYE pilot project. In the pilot project the focus was on creating a ‘Pre-Start’ business programme, and with RYE Connect we seek to enhance the scope with business support programmes for ‘Start’, ‘Growth’ and ‘Reboot’. We have created a toolbox for many of the challenges the young entrepreneur will meet from when they come up with their idea through to finalising their first sale or getting the investment they need for growth.”

Paul Donnelly, DAERA, also commented, “The RYE Connect Programme meets with the objective of our Tackling Poverty and Social Isolation Programme in supporting vulnerable people in rural areas. The Programme creates the foundations for the development, growth or restructuring of rural businesses and we are pleased to be able to support these businesses”.

The event provided an opportunity to showcase some of the young talented entrepreneurs who have come through the Programme. Participants such as Joel Cuddy from outside Cookstown who, through his business, Swift Wireless, seeks to transform how users connect to the internet. During the event Joel was chosen as a Northern Ireland representative to participate in the RYE Connect ‘Cool Awards’ due to take place in Levi Lapland in January 2018.  VIEW HIS WINNING VIDEO HERE.  Joel will join a number of like-minded young entrepreneurs in a programme of mentoring and masterclasses throughout the week and will represent Northern Ireland in the overall programme awards.

For more information on upcoming workshops and the RYE Connect Programme contact RDC on 028 8676 6980 or visit