Leitrim’s best young entrepreneurs have been announced at the County Final of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) competition, which took place in the Landmark Hotel on December 1st 2016.
IBYE, which has a €2 million investment fund, is run by all 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) and is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland.
The overall “Best Young Entrepreneur” for the county was named by Local Enterprise Office Leitrim as Aoife Mc Niffe age 28 from “Against the Grain” in Foxfield, Carrick on Shannon. Aoife also won the category for Best New Idea and an investment fund from LEO Leitrim worth € 7,000.
The other main category winners on the day were Lorcan Kearns, age 28, from “Wild Atlantic Crusades” in Kinlough, Co. Leitrim in the Best Start Up Category and Michelle Fanning, 28, of “Assorted Fitness” in Ballinamore in the Best Established Business category. The top prize in the Best Start Up category was € 15,000, with a top prize of € 15,000 for the Best Established category. All three category winners will now be representing the County at one of eight IBYE Regional Finals, taking place during January and February 2017.
Meanwhile, the category runners-up also shared an investment of €13,000 between their three businesses. They were: Jessica O’ Rourke, age 25 of Mud Bugs in Newtowngore in the Best New Idea category; Jonathan Beirne, age 23, of Beirne’s Bar and Restaurant in Mohill, in the Best Start Up category and finally, Michael O’ Rourke, age 32, O’ Rourke Security in Drumsna in the Best Established Business category.
Joe Lowe is the Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Leitrim and he said: “We started the search to find Ireland’s best young entrepreneur in August and the competition received a record-breaking number of entries this year, with 1,800 young entrepreneurs applying nationally. After a very successful IBYE bootcamp and County Final, the future is bright for both youth entrepreneurship and job creation in the region.”
Special guests at the IBYE County Final included: Frank Curran, Chief Executive Officer, Leitrim County Council, Mary Bohan Cathaoirleach, Leitrim County Council.
The vital role of the judging panel was also acknowledged at the awards ceremony and this year’s judges included: Mary Boyle of Enterprise Ireland, Brian Dolan of Progressive Business Development and Joe Lowe, Head of Enterprise, LEO Leitrim. The Regional Finals for IBYE are taking place in January and February 2017, to select 24 national finalists across the three competition categories.
Further details on the competition and supports available to young entrepreneurs are available through www.localenterprise.ie and from the IBYE website at www.ibye.ie.