Moving to another country to start a business can be very daunting. Here, five women who moved to Ireland and successfully started their own business, share their experiences.  

Leslie Maliepaard

Leslie is the founder of Fortrino Ltd., a boutique investment office based in Dublin. Fortrino invests and supports entrepreneurs in high potential startups across Europe. The company is “sector agnostic and focuses on IoT technologies in the MedTech, AgriTech, cybersecurity and InduTech industries”. Leslie moved to Dublin from South Africa in March 2016 and like every overseas move, it was daunting and she doubted if she was making the right decision

“I find Ireland a very helpful and friendly country. It’s a lot easier to do business here than in South Africa. You have to get through your first year before you really find your feet. I think once you survey and learn the ins and outs of the startup scene, you will find that there is a lot of support from government, ecosystem partners, community and individuals in Ireland.”

“After surveying the Irish and European landscape, I made a decision to follow my passions around helping IoT startups that concentrate on discovering solutions that solve critical problems the world is facing. Once again the sectors we concentrate on are health and environmental sciences and our aim is to help accelerate new discoveries and innovations for the benefit of improving environmental and human health globally.”

Ashlee Chin

Ashlee is the chief operations officer of K.C Consulting, a specialist Asian marketing and channel development agency. Ashlee helps companies of all sizes to plan and implement their Asian marketing projects by assessing new Asian markets and improving their Asian marketing presence. She is also the head of events for the Irish Chinese Society Galway, a non-profit organisation in the West of Ireland.

Following the introduction of the One Belt One Road Initiative which was designed to economically link Europe to China, Ashlee believes Chinese companies will see huge potential in Ireland, particularly following Britain’s decision to leave the EU. “I believe there are massive opportunities for trade between Ireland and China in the areas of agri-food, medical devices, project management, fintech, aviation leasing, and the high-tech industry.”

Hanna Walter

Hanna is a career and business coach who specialises in working with Ireland’s Polish community to encourage more people from Poland to set up and run businesses in Ireland. Based in Galway, Hanna says one of the best characteristics Irish people have is their ability to network, something that Polish people are not quite as strong at.

“My mission is to inspire people to find their right career path and encourage them as entrepreneurs. They need to realise that we only have one life and our mission is to use our full potential.”

 Thalita Figueiredo

Thalita is the co-founder of WorkFlow ICT, where they create human resource technologies and specialise in the personal development, career strategy and branding of professionals for the job market. “We work with a team of influencers guiding our clients in areas such as entrepreneur branding, advanced LinkedIn, content writing, interviews, sales, time management, networking tactics, business and leadership.”

Thalita moved to Europe in 2008, and after living for three years in Belgium, she and her husband decided to move to Ireland, given the demanding IT market. Thalita believes that people outside of Ireland are not aware of the potential to do business here. “Showing foreign people the benefits of living and having a business in Ireland is a must. I believe that there is so much information about it when you are already in Ireland, but maybe it should be advertised more outside of Ireland.”

Latifah Oluwole

Latifah Oluwole is the entrepreneur behind Sparkles, a brand that is bringing both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks from West Africa to a mass audience, focusing on being colourful and accessible to all. Sparkles provides drinks to local shops across Ireland while also maintaining a strong presence at events by using a portable bar.

Latifah received very little support in setting up Sparkles, as she self-funded the business from day one. The only support she received was creating her business plan, with help coming from her Local Enterprise Office. Despite being able to financially support herself, Latifah says others don’t have that luck and need support. “To improve, I think people in Ireland need more resources and financial help. Anyone can come up with a good idea but they might not know what to do about it to implement the idea into becoming a business.”

Article by Stephen Larkin.