Jennifer Provan from Louth recently returned from Glasgow to establish Kitchenetta Catering with ambitious plans for the future.
Jennifer Provan, founder of Kitchenetta Catering, is a recent alumni of the Irish Government’s Back for Business programme.
The Back for Business programme was created in 2018 to foster and support entrepreneurial activity among Irish emigrants returning to Ireland. Now in its seventh year, Back for Business has helped entrepreneurs to significantly grow sales and employment.
“I have been coming home for a long time and I noticed how different Louth is – it oozes potential, and I just felt that I could do something here”
Funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Back for Business is seeking up to 50 applicants from returned and returning Irish emigrants that wish to start and develop businesses in Ireland. They are invited to apply to participate in the development programme which is tailored to their needs. There is no cost to those selected.
This cycle will run from February to June 2024. The closing date for applications is 5pm on Monday 15 January 2024. Those interested in learning more about applying for Back for Business 7 can download a brochure and register their interest in receiving an application form by visiting Back for Business.
Jennifer Provan, from Ballymascanlon on the Cooley Peninsula in Co Louth, left Ireland in 2002 because she had met her husband, who is Glaswegian, and he had a business in Glasgow.
“It was easier for me to move than it was for him; otherwise, I would never have left,” she says.
Before leaving Ireland Jennifer was working in hospitality after studying Hospitality Management, and she set up her own catering company and two cafés while living in Glasgow.
Ultimately, however, she had always wanted to return to Ireland and, after 21 years in Glasgow, the couple took the opportunity to do so when their son went away to college.
“I’m from a farm and when we got married my parents gifted us a beautiful plot of land with the original farmhouse on it, and I always dreamed of building there,” she says.
“Also, I have been coming home for a long time and I noticed how different Louth is – it oozes potential, and I just felt that I could do something here.”
Jennifer wound down her business, Kitchenetta Catering, in Glasgow and reopened it in Louth in March 2023. “It was quite easy for me because I had my website in Glasgow, so I just changed over the domain name. I also have a network here so that aspect was easy too,” she says.
“Being back has changed my lifestyle massively because I’ve gone from living in a busy city to living back on the farm. I much prefer the pace of life here. It’s a lot more hospitable. It’s just lovely to be back home.”
The business took off quickly, with Jennifer having to hire two part-time employees to meet demand. “I’ve been very busy. One standout moment was a post-wedding party for 110 people. It was a huge success, and I got amazing feedback,” she says.
“I generally wouldn’t have done weddings or things like that much before in Scotland, because I was very busy with a lot of corporate clients, but I’ve decided to start catering for weddings as well.”
However, as well as the catering, she also has a deeper ambition for the business.
“My real aspiration for Kitchenetta is to convert a barn on my land and turn it into a cook school, a mini Ballymaloe, where I would run a programme of events that really concentrate on the biodiversity of the environment of the area,” she says.
“Because we are on a farm, and my house is on an orchard in a beautiful location, which is on a good road network and equidistant from Belfast and Dublin, I intend to make the most of that. My plan is to run foraging courses, have guest chefs and an events space focused on regenerative agriculture and sustainability.”
Jennifer says Back for Business was an amazing experience. “It was very collaborative and very supportive. We gleaned a lot of knowledge from each other and our Lead Entrepreneur, a lot of which we’ve gone on to use,” she says.
“I would highly recommend it. I really enjoyed every minute of it, and I know that all of my group did as well, and we’re all very much in touch since and still supporting each other. It’s been seriously advantageous.”
As well as planning to grow the catering side of the business and hire more staff, Jennifer expects to have her cook school up and running within 12 months.