LEADER and Teagasc offices could boost non-traditional businesses

LEADER and Teagasc offices should be used as incubation premises by farmers and rural entrepreneurs to develop new non-traditional businesses, according to a report by the National Rural Network (NRN) at the Tipperary Institute.

Resident business experts in these loci would also act as mentors for these start-up businesses, suggests the report.

Authored by Dr Pat Bogue of the NRN, this in-depth, 40-page report analyses rural regeneration subjects ranging from micro-enterprise supports and rural broadband schemes, to training and agri-tourism.

The report cites Teagasc rural business specialist Paul McCarthy, who suggests a culture of rural enterprise and innovation could be developed similar to farmers north of the border, and located in LEADER and Teagasc offices.

Mr McCarthy writes: “Ireland could utilise and compensate successful entrepreneurs to inform, educate and encourage others to diversify.

Similarly, a farmers’ market could be funded to provide direct sales training and experience in the market place.

“A scaled level of advice and training increasing in intensity as the individual becomes more committed to the enterprise/idea. Business incubation units which could provide a ‘hot desk’ facility. This would get the new entrepreneur away from the farm and home environment and create a space where they can interact with other entrepreneurs.”

McCarthy suggests existing Teagasc and LEADER facilities could quickly become business hives. Potential entrepreneurs seeking supports should be invited to pitch their ideas to a panel in order to assess the potential of the project/promoter.

Dr Pat Bogue suggests that entrepreneurship should be included as a core module in all education courses, including mainstream agricultural courses provided by Teagasc.

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