Supporting self-employment

Supporting self-employment

County Kildare LEADER Partnership is helping to tackle long-term unemployment and encourage self-employment with the support of the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) and ESF+

“County Kildare LEADER Partnership (CKLP) has been operational since 2009 as the Local Development Company for County Kildare,” says Pat Leogue, CEO of the Partnership. “The company delivers a range of social inclusion and rural development programmes on behalf of Government Departments and agencies.”

CKLP has been responsible for the implementation of  SICAP since 2015. SICAP, which aims to reduce poverty and promote social inclusion and equality, is co-funded by the Irish Government, through the Department of Rural and Community Development, and the European Union, through the ESF+.  

“In the current SICAP 2018–2023 period, CKLP has assisted approximately 800 individuals and 70 groups per annum, with a range of supports focused on the most disadvantaged areas and groups in the county. One of the main supports provided by SICAP in County Kildare has been to assist individuals to become self-employed.’’ SICAP creates awareness of the supports available for those who would like to explore setting up their own business, which include the fourteen-week Enterprise Skills Programme, the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance, the Short -Term Enterprise Support Allowance (funded by the Department of Social Protection),pre-enterprise training, coaching and mentoring sessions, themed workshops, business plan development and networking opportunities.

“Like many other aspects of SICAP, interagency collaboration is a key factor in providing the best support. This is achieved through collaboration with organisations like the Department of Social Protection, the Local Enterprise Office, and the local Education and Training Board.”


Mary Minogue, Enterprise and Social Enterprise Support Worker with CKLP, says, “Jobseekers that become SICAP clients are offered a pathway of support and mentoring as they set their business up.”

Mary wears a bright blue jacket. She is standing outside and thereis greenery to the left

“Each individual is assisted to develop a Personal Action Plan, where their readiness for self-employment is explored. They are offered additional one-to-one business meetings to support the creation of a business plan in preparation for their application for the Department of Social Protection Enterprise Support Schemes – the Short-Term Enterprise Support Scheme and the Back-to-Work Enterprise Allowance. Each client attends a start-your-own business course as a prerequisite to availing of further supports, and clients are offered several options to do this depending on their readiness for self-employment.” 

Having been self-employed herself for over 10 years, Mary was attracted to the role of supporting others to look at self-employment as an option. Now working with CKLP since 2018, Mary finds that “with the right encouragement and support, many clients would never go back to working for someone else once they’ve had their own business”.

Entrepreneurs supported by SICAP

Over the lifetime of the SICAP Programme, CKLP has supported over 264 individuals to set up their own businesses and become entrepreneurs. Rosemary Lawlor from Tribe Art Studio in Castledermot, Kildare, is one such example. Rosemary had worked in a pre-school setting for eight years and having found herself out of work, she decided she wanted to set up her own business.

She took part in an Enterprise Skills Programme provided by CKLP through a Community Employment Scheme. Rosemary was then assisted by Mary Minogue and her colleagues, funded under SICAP, and received mentoring to apply for the Short-Term Enterprise Support Allowance. This helped Rosemary set up Tribe Art Studios in late 2019. Today, her thriving business provides art classes, workshops and parties for all ages.     

A young lady Rosemary stands in front of some pieces of art and a banner with "Find Your Tribe" at the top.

“I am a single parent, and this was a crazy pipedream to have,” says Rosemary. “I have never been happier doing this and I don’t think I will ever do anything else. The dream will become real with the right supports!”

According to Pat Leogue of County Kildare LEADER Partnership, the support from SICAP and ESF+ is important in tackling unemployment, poverty, and social inclusion in Ireland for two main reasons.

“Firstly, the additional resources are vital in supporting the local development sector, as there are growing demands for funding and an increasing range of needs to be met. Secondly, it is not often acknowledged that the involvement of the EU and ESF+ brings additional knowledge and expertise from the experience of our European partners. This assists in tackling social inclusion issues in our society.”

Pat adds, “CKLP recognises that the population in Ireland is continuing to grow above international averages and that this has implications in terms of prioritising resources and investment. The key priorities for the company over the next five years are to continue to support individuals, to respond to and assist communities, and to continue to develop collaborations with a wide range of stakeholders.”

SICAP Nationally

SICAP addresses high and persistent levels of deprivation through targeted and innovative, locally led approaches throughout the country. It supports disadvantaged communities and individuals including unemployed people, people living in deprived areas, people with disabilities, single parent families, people on a low income, members of the Traveller and Roma community and other disadvantaged groups. SICAP fosters active inclusion with a view to promoting equal opportunities, active participation and improving the employability of disadvantaged groups and supports participants on their path to gain employment or self-employment through education, training and developmental supports.

In 2022 SICAP successfully supported 2,760 Local Community Groups, 560 Social Enterprises and 30,416 individuals all over Ireland.

For contact details of your local SICAP company please email:


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