Belfast Telegraph

Global entrepreneurship week a resounding success

By John Ferris

Earlier this month, entrepreneurs gathered together to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week. Hundreds of events took place across Northern Ireland with business and civic leaders alike doing their part to champion local entrepreneurs and the contribution they make to our overall economy.

As the only bank in Northern Ireland with a dedicated entrepreneurship team, Global Entrepreneurship Week was of particular importance for us and we welcomed the chance to celebrate this thriving sector across all divisions of the bank.

Our Boost team brought a series of workshops to three Northern Ireland towns where entrepreneurs were given guidance on new tax reporting regulations.

Those involved with the current Entrepreneur Accelerator Programme took part in a workshop aimed at focusing a more entrepreneurial mindset and we also took the opportunity to roll out the first of our Pre-Accelerator programmes, providing support to entrepreneurs right at the inception stage of their businesses.

So, what lessons did we learn from Global Entrepreneurship Week? Aside from being blown away by the dynamism and vitality of all the entrepreneurs who attended and took part in events, for me the biggest takeaway was being reminded of how much work still needs to be done to support entrepreneurs.

We have endless research pointing towards the benefits delivered by a more entrepreneurial society yet why are there still hurdles in place preventing people from making their business dreams a reality? As a team dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs, Global Entrepreneurship Week helped us to reaffirm our pledge to improve the prospects for a start-up and crucially, work with them to overcome the challenges of starting and growing a business.

The Ulster Bank Accelerator Programme has been operational for just under three years and in that time has supported over 350 businesses on their journey to success.

It's now time for the next stage in our own development and I'm excited to announce that, as of yesterday, the Entrepreneur Accelerator hub has moved into Ulster Bank's main headquarters.

Designed with feedback from previous participants of the programme in mind, we are confident that our new base provides a contemporary, fit-for-purpose workspace with exceptional facilities.

More important, however, is the opportunity this presents for our entrepreneurs to work collaboratively with the wider network of Ulster Bank business teams who in turn will benefit from an improved and more innovative working culture.

Global Entrepreneurship Week highlighted the need to continue to support entrepreneurs and as our fully-funded programme enters its next phase, I'm proud that as a bank, we have recommitted our support for growing businesses.

As Garrett O'Hare and Kathryn Callaghan can both attest, business ideas will only thrive when they are nurtured by input from experienced mentors and given improved access to funding.

Our programme continues to provide clear pathways for both these elements and we're excited to watch our next cohort of entrepreneurs flourish in our new Belfast Hub.

  • John Ferris is a director at the Ulster Bank Entrepreneur Accelerator Programme

Belfast Telegraph

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