Minister Richmond visits LEO Kildare client showcase in MERITS

Minister Richmond visits LEO Kildare client showcase in MERITS

minister visit feb 2024

Kildare County Council welcomed Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with special responsibility for Business, Employment and Retail, Neale Richmond, TD to a recent showcase of Kildare Local Enterprise clients.

Accompanied by Minister Martin Haydon, they were welcomed by Leas Chair Tracey O’ Dwyer, Sonya Kavanagh, Chief Executive, Kildare County Council, Alan Dunney, Director of Services, Kildare County Council, Deputy Cathal Berry and elected members of Kildare County Council.

On arrival, the Minister met a selection of Kildare Local Enterprise office clients in their offices in MERITS. The Local Enterprise Office in Kildare promotes entrepreneurship and are the “first-stop-shop” for anyone who is beginning their journey with a new business as well as those wishing to expand their existing one.

These Clients included members of the LEO Kildare Creative Cluster

  • Maynooth based Tamzen Lundy Designs who hand crafts quirky, sustainably made, woollen wet felted gifts.
  • Celbridge based Loinnir and her collection of jewellery inspired by Celtic jewellery with a modern twist.
  • Kildare based Kildare Candle Barn with an extensive range of luxury home fragrance products.


Jacqui Sweeney of Kildare Candle Barn told the Minister of her achievements as part of the LEO’s Creative Cluster in a recent project in Kildare Village; “My sales were incredible in the shop. The impact of the shop will be long lasting as I feel being involved in Gather has added a bit more credence to the brand and definitely, I’m already seeing a huge increase in brand recognition - for instance I just finished a large fair and over the 2 weeks I encountered so many people who had bought not just my products but my fellow crafters products at Gather.

The Creative Cluster provides a space for collaboration, development, and business opportunities. Cluster meetings take place monthly and feature a focus on different areas of business development specific to the creative and craft sector.

The Creative Cluster is open to established Craft and Creative Business that are currently trading in a full-time capacity.

The Minister then met members of the Flavours of Kildare Food Cluster. These included:

  • Naas based Beara Bitters who produce concentrated alcoholic bitters made from natural fruits, nuts and seeds infusions.
  • Monasterevan based Aisling’s Taste of Home, Aldi’s Brown Bread Competition winner in 2021.


Speaking to the Minister Aisling O’Toole said; “LEO Kildare has been a great support so far. My initial meeting with the team was so encouraging and positive. They gave me the confidence and encouragement to apply for a Priming Grant. I've benefited from some excellent mentoring, and it is very reassuring to have LEO Kildare as a support going forward as my business develops and grows.”

The goal of Flavours of Kildare is to help the county nurture its enviable status as an iconic food brand. Now, through the Flavours of Kildare brand these programmes can enjoy better linkages and cross-promotion. All sector-specific clusters led by the Enterprise and Economic development team are open to new members on an ongoing basis and there are no membership fees.

Guests in attendance then took a tour of MERITS to meet some of the tech start-ups that call MERITS home.

They visited the founder’s lab, toured the offices on the first floor and participated in an interactive demo with Data and Design using the content-lab in MERITS.

Minister Richmond also announced the winner of the MERITS Tech Pre-Accelerator 2024. This programme designed and delivered by Local Enterprise Office Kildare is aimed at early-stage digital and tech businesses in Kildare. They come to MERITS with an idea, and they are supported to test and validate their idea through guided modules, one-on-one mentor sessions and peer-to-peer group meetings.

Aspiring entrepreneurs completed their final pitches as part of our competitive tech pre-accelerator. They were judged on the identification of a defined market for a specific problem, and their ability to convey a clear and innovative solution.

Minister Richmond named Ben Moran and his business Proactive Paths as the winner, winning 6 months membership to MERITS and €1,000 worth of consultancy support to continue to work with LEO towards the development of their digital solution.

Addressing all the guests in attendance, Head of Enterprise and Economic Development Jacqui McNabb said; “This programme is just one of an extensive range of high-quality business and management development programmes to SMEs tailored to meet their specific requirements. The Local Enterprise Offices have been working with businesses across the county to help with Trading online, mentoring, training, upskilling and financial support.  In coordinating today’s event we wanted to showcase the drive, ambition, and dedication of our clients in Kildare, across all sectors.”

The LEOs offer direct grant aid to microenterprises across multiple sectors.  LEO Kildare provided €952,458 in grant funding to assist enterprise development within their local authority area and €160,703.45 in both Shopfront and retail window grants through Economic Development Funding in 2023.

To discuss your idea or business expansion plans business owners are encouraged to reach out to the Local Enterprise Office team on 045 980 838 / or view the substantial suite of supports at