Rural Young Entrepreneurs Awarded for their Excellence

26 February 2014

Aspiring rural young entrepreneurs from across Europe’s Northern Periphery took centre stage this week at the RYE (Rural Youth Entrepreneurship) awards held in Omagh. The event hosted by Northern Ireland partners, the Rural Development Council (RDC) and Advantage NI welcomed colleagues and young entrepreneurs from Finland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

Rural Young Entrepreneurs Awarded for their Excellence

RYE Winners (L-R) Claire Fox, Mark McCrea, Keifer Averill and Mrs Smith (Mother, representing Luke Robert Smith) 

RYE is an innovative project that aims to contribute to local, regional, national and transnational economic development by stimulating the latent entrepreneurial talent of young people across Europe. Operating as a pilot the project is designed and tested in rural areas of Northern Ireland, Finland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

Teresa Canavan, Chief Executive of RDC, said “RYE is aimed at 16-30 year olds living in rural areas. In Northern Ireland it is particularly targeted at disadvantaged rural locations and is designed to facilitate young people to develop the skills, knowledge, confidence and capacity to create viable business ventures. RDC is delighted to be leading this pilot project. We want to encourage economically active and sustainable rural communities that offer rural young people a bright future and RYE does exactly that by offering an alternative to employment. It provides young people with the encouragement, necessary tools and support to consider setting up a business for themselves.”

Seven finalists from across Northern Ireland were joined by aspiring entrepreneurs from the other regions. These aspiring entrepreneurs had participated in their Country awards and as a result were offered the opportunity to travel to Northern Ireland to share in the Northern Ireland Award ceremony and meet with other enterprising young people.

Announcing the winners, Gerry Ford Director of Advantage NI, said “It’s an honour and privilege to have worked alongside these very talented and ambitious young people. I’ve enjoyed the time getting to know them in a personal capacity and watch them grow and develop their business idea. This project is about supporting and encouraging potential aspiring entrepreneurs and all those engaging deserve to be congratulated for taking the first step on their journey to enterprise. I look forward to seeing their businesses grow and flourish”.

The award of ‘Most Promising Rural Business Idea 2014’ went to Luke Smith, Specialist Rare Beef Production from Cookstown, Co Tyrone.
‘Spirit of RYE’ to Kiefer Averill of Misfits4Media located outside Dungiven, Co L’derry
‘Potential for Growth’ Claire Fox, Photographic Artist based in Carrickmore, Co Tyrone.
‘Most Innovative Idea’ Mark McCrea, Greener Indoors based in Clanabogan, Co Tyrone.

Congratulating the winners, Teresa Canavan RDC concluded, “It is encouraging to know that rural young people have vision and drive to want to set up their own business and contribute to the rural economy. I congratulate all those involved in the project and take this opportunity to encourage other aspiring rural young entrepreneurs to make contact with RYE. No matter what stage your plan is at or whether you simply know you want to work for yourself but haven’t yet formulated an idea RYE can help. It is tailored to bring out the creativity and business flare that exists in many rural young people and support them to realise their dreams.”

RYE is funded by the European Regional Development Fund which is innovatively investing in Europe's Northern Periphery for a sustainable and prosperous future. The Northern Ireland delivery is co-financed by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development through its Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Inclusion Programme.
For more information on how to get involved contact Gillian Maxwell on (028) 867 66980

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• The RDC are currently the Lead partner in the RYE Rural Youth Entrepreneurship project (RYE). It is an innovative project that aims to contribute to local, regional, national and transnational rural economic development by stimulating the latent entrepreneurial talent of young people in Northern Ireland, Faroe Islands, Finland and Greenland. It is a pilot programme developing and testing a model of engaging young people in rural areas to consider the potential of business development & self employment.

• The project will create inventive online services, products, research and networks at www.ryeprojecttool.eu to facilitate young people in rural areas to develop the skills, knowledge, confidence and capacity to create viable business ventures, improve local service provision, establish transnational trade routes and improve the competitiveness of their regions. The project also aims to help redress youth migration by contributing to economically active and sustainable rural communities that offer young people a bright future. The overall international Project is funded by the Northern Periphery Programme, and cofounded in Northern Ireland by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

• RDC is an independent organisation working to ensure the collective needs and opportunities of rural areas can be realised. RDC works to promote positive and sustainable change helping to develop and regenerate rural areas for the better. RDC is presently managed by an 8-member Council comprised of representatives drawn from a wide range of rural interests. The Board is supported by an enthusiastic and passionate staff team and collectively they work to secure a vision of 'a living, working, sustainable and shared countryside'.

• Advantage is a not for profit company specialising in providing economic development and entrepreneurship support services for young people, working with clients in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Advantage has been providing products and services for young people in Northern Ireland for twenty-five years.