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Downturn is a challenge for ethnic entrepreneurs

Last update - Thursday, May 7, 2009, 00:43 By Metro Éireann

The current economic climate poses a significant problem for ethnic entrepreneurs in Ireland, with access to finance and support to keep their businesses viable among the core issues of concern.

This was the message from organisers and sponsors at the launch of the 2009 permanent tsb Ethnic Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in Dublin last week.
Chinedu Onyejelem, the editor of Metro Éireann, organisers of the awards, said: “Despite the challenges, ethnic entrepreneurs will continue to establish new ventures in Ireland. For those with well established businesses the economic downturn, while a struggle, offers an opportunity to reflect and identify new opportunities and reinvigorate efficiency.”
Also speaking at the launch, permanent tsb chief executive David Guinane said: “We are delighted to be involved in the awards again this year to recognise the positive contribution made by immigrants to this country.”
Now in their third year, the permanent tsb Ethnic Entrepreneur of the Year Awards recognise and encourage entrepreneurship among members of ethnic minority groups in establishing businesses and social projects across Ireland.
The competition has a strong focus on mentoring, and offers finalists the opportunity to take part in an exclusive mentoring programme with Aidan Heavey, founder and chief executive of Tullow Oil, the world’s fastest growing independent oil company, with operations in 22 countries.
Awards will be decided in five categories, as well as an overall award for the Ethnic Entrepreneur of the Year. Categories within the competition include:
l Best Business Idea, sponsored by The Irish Times
l Service Ethnic Entrepreneur, sponsored by Metro Éireann
l Emerging Ethnic Entrepre-neur, sponsored by Tullow Oil
l Technology Ethnic Entre-preneur of the Year, sponsored by Communicorp
l Social Ethnic Entrepreneur, sponsored by NewsTalk 106-108fm
The judging panel includes Brian Kearney-Grieve, programme executive for reconciliation and human rights with The Atlantic Philanthropies; Lucy Gaffney, chair of the Communicorp Group; Dr Wilberforce Owusu-Ansah of UCD; Sean O’Sullivan, CEO of South Cork Enterprise Board; David Guinane, chief executive of permanent tsb; Rita Shah, CEO of Shabra Plastics and overall winner in 2007; and Asheesh Dewan, founder of the Jaipur chain restaurant chain and overall winner in 2008.
Businesses interested in entering this year’s awards can download an application form from the official awards website at The closing date for entries is 5 June 2009.

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