The Jungle NI
A group of RYE participants recently visited The Jungle NI outdoor adventure centre located on the outskirts of Moneymore, Co L/derry where they had the privilege of listening to one of Northern Irelands top young entrepreneurs Robert Carmichael talk about his experience of turning a farm into a very successful rural business that continues to grow year on year.
With 200 hectares available Robert had the vision and passion to turn his father’s farm into one of Northern Ireland’s first paintball sites. Since starting, the ranges of services has expanded offering adrenaline junkies a vast array of activities, group activities such as team building exercises, kid’s parties, themed events and training courses. With highly qualified training instructors on site Robert strides to improve the business by offering a quality professional service researching and creating exciting activities for all ages.
In 2006 Robert was awarded the Magherafelt Business Award for Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Award for Best Farm Diversification. The Jungle NI continues to receive rave reviews from customers and visitors alike. Most recent accolades include ‘Best Thrill Seeking Venue 2011’ and ‘Best Innovation 2012’ for the annual Fright Night event as voted by Outdoor NI in association with Surf Mountain.
At the event Robert spoke to the young entrepreneurs telling them about his experience he said;
“I left college and returned home for the summer with no intention of taking up the reigns of my father’s farm. After some gentle persuasion from my grandparents I reluctantly decided to stay and help out. My intention was to travel but after a few years working on the farm I started to look at alternative streams of sourcing finance. Ideas came and went but then something that started off small has grew beyond my imagination. This has come with sheer hard work, determination and carrying out research on activities that were not being offered elsewhere but with a twist to them. If I can give you any advice stay committed, focus ensure you are offering something totally different that no one else is offering and always stay ahead of your competitors.”
Also speaking at the event was Michael Kelly, Director RDC who gave a brief talk to the young people on the possible opportunities available through the new Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020 for Northern Ireland:
“The recent announcement of the EU approval of the RDP has been greatly received and with it comes real opportunities for rural businesses. I would encourage any young person who is considering starting up a business or has started to trade to engage with their Local Action Group representatives to find out more about the potential opportunities for financial assistance to help kick start your business.”
If you would like further information on The Jungle NI you can visit the website at www.thejungleni.com or telephone 028 8674 8881. For further details on the RDP visit the DARD website www.dardni.gov.uk