LEO Cork City shines a light on self-employment for people with disabilities


6th March 2024



Unique collaboration with the Crann Centre highlights business supports available 


Local Enterprise Office, Cork City and The Crann Centre jointly hosted an event to raise awareness of the possible opportunities in self-employment for people with disabilities.  The event to highlight the supports available for any person with a disability who wishes to start their own business was held at the Crann Centre as part of Local Enterprise Week 2024. 

Up to 15% of the population in Ireland has a disability and The Crann Centre is calling for an increased awareness of the skill set that they may be able to bring to a business. 

CEO of the Crann Centre, Padraig Mallon said; “People with disabilities in Ireland are half as likely to be employed as people without a visible disability and that needs to change.  If self-employment and enterprise and innovation is an option for anybody then it should be an option for a person with a disability as well.  So, the conversation needs to happen, people need to see it as a viable option for them and all of the barriers that take away that opportunity need to be worked on.  And it needs an inter-agency approach which we saw here at this event.” 

Content creator and TV personality Paddy Smyth was the keynote speaker at the event.  He told attendees that he has not let his disability get in the way of achieving his goals.  

Other speakers included Seán O’Mahony who spoke about setting up his business, The Autistic Baker.  Seán, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of five, discovered a passion for baking during the Covid19 lockdown. He realised he could turn this passion into a business and set up The Autistic Baker in May 2021. 

“For me I have felt included by the people that support me everyday - my family, second family at Rainbow club and Youth Reach.  Inclusion is about accepting me for who I am, understanding my needs and recognising I see the world through a different lens.  If you accept, understand and support me then I am included and that makes me feel accepted” 

Attendees also heard from Kate Gaffney of Múin Education Ltd and Sadhbh Warren of Red Rock Writing. Trainer and mentor Veronica Murphy shared her top tips to start a business while Dermot Crosby of the Department of Social Protection gave an overview of supports for jobseekers with disabilities interested in self-employment. 

Dr Niall O’Keeffe, Head of Enterprise at the Local Enterprise Office, Cork City, said; “We are delighted to partner with the Crann Centre for this really important event.  No one should be prevented from setting up their own business and it is crucial that anyone with a start-up idea is given equal opportunities in terms of supports, grants and advice.  We want people with a disability to know that they can contact their Local Enterprise Office if they want to set up their own company or if they are at a point where they need assistance to take them to the next stage in their entrepreneurial journey.” 

Local Enterprise Week runs until Friday, March 8th 2024.  LEO Cork City has organised a jam-packed programme of in-person and online events aimed at small / micro businesses in Cork City.  All events are free to attend but people need to book online in advance. 

For further information on LEO Cork City’s complete programme of events for Local Enterprise Week and to book your place online, visit www.localenterprise.ie/corkcity