Entrepreneurial skills charity Young Enterprise Northern Ireland and start-up community Startacus have joined forces with the Department of the Economy to support start-up entrepreneurs with high export potential.

Forty founders, ages 18 to 30+, participated in the three-month program across two cohorts. These included alumni of the Young Enterprise School and university programs who continued their journey in the world of entrepreneurship.

Attendees engaged in workshops and panel discussions to understand how to incorporate exporting into their business growth plan, hearing from seasoned experts including Declan Barry of Export Explore, marketing specialists Grand Scale and l sales expert Aidan McGrath. The knowledge of these experienced exporters helped create connections and pathways to build a route to cross-border and international trade within the framework.

Speaking at the initial launch of the scheme at coworking space Clockwise Belfast, Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: “I am delighted to be launching this pilot project with Young Enterprise and Startacus.

“The initiative aligns well with my department’s 10X Skills strategy by seeking to create a culture of continuous learning among our young people who intend to become entrepreneurs and by helping them to stimulate economic growth.

“Having met Young Enterprise alumni, I can see the value of investing in the development of tomorrow’s entrepreneurs by developing their skills at an early stage. I want us to continue to promote start-ups on the NI market but also, as this pilot project does, to equip them with the necessary skills to trade internationally.

Carol Fitzsimons MBE, Chief Executive of Young Enterprise, said: “The charity Young Enterprise is well known for its work in schools to develop entrepreneurial intention, and this program has been built on that foundation.

“We recognize that those who are at the start of their entrepreneurial journey, whether or not they are alumni of our programs, appreciate additional support to develop their network and gain knowledge on important topics such as exporting before starting. their business and during their first stage of development.”

The program built on the Northwest Region women-focused Impacting Founders initiative that the Young Enterprise/Startacus team spearheaded last year, connecting early-career female founders with specialists in business and support networks.

Alastair Cameron, Co-Founder of Startacus, said: “The Exporting Founders Program has done a great job of providing early stage startups with the skills, knowledge and connections to make cross-border and international trade a core part of their business. . strategy.”

Raising awareness of broader connections to other business networks is key to providing lasting support networks that founders can navigate into.