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Starting a Business in Coleraine

If you are in the process of planning your business, have just started trading or have been in business for some time, Causeway Enterprise Agency can provide you with the tailored support you need to manage it more efficiently, productively and profitably.




Small businesses in the North West of Northern Ireland will benefit from stronger leadership and entrepreneurship skills to improve their overall productivity, thanks to a government-backed project which received the green light today. The Micro Firm Leader Development Programme led by the Causeway Enterprise Agency is one of 8 projects in the UK selected as part of the UK Futures Programme, run by UKCES.

Under the programme Causeway Enterprise Agency will work with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) to pilot new ways to boost the leadership in micro businesses (firms operating with less than 10 employees) in Northern Ireland.

Causeway Enterprise Agency developed their Micro Firm Leadership programme in partnership with the Department of Employment and Learning NI, the Causeway Coast and Glens Council, Invest NI and Enterprise Northern Irelandafter research into the provision of training and development initiatives for NI businesses revealed that funded or part funded provision for micro businesses, which account for 90% of the NI economy, was lacking with both public and private leadership training in the region focusing on more general management and team leadership issues, relevant to SMEs. The very nature of micro businesses means they have limited capacity and often lack the necessary financial resources required to develop new leadership capabilities. In addition as they are often family run organisations whose owners do not even view themselves as leaders. Through the programme Causeway Enterprise Agency aims to address this gap and reach out to very small businesses to help them to develop the leadership skills that will enable them to fulfil their professional and personal aspirations.

Jayne Taggart, Chief Executive at Causeway Enterprise Agency commented:

Given the importance of the micro-business sector it is vital that we give them the support they need - to invest in their development is to invest in their growth, the future of the economy and the opportunities that will come with that growth.

The NI economy is experiencing major changes and challenges and during tough times Leadership is more important than ever, because it’s about deciding which direction to go in, knowing how to handle the challenges you'll hit and understanding how to recognise and grasp great opportunities when they present themselves.

Studies show that the qualities a micro business owner needs to lead are similar to those of the leaders of large corporations, just on a different scale. With this in mind we have brought together business leaders from all sizes and types of businesses in NI to deliver this innovative programme. The business leaders have great stories to share - they started small and faced challenges along the way but had one thing in common they had big ideas, big visions – visions that they are now realizing. Vision is a concept that very small businesses struggle with, many micro business owners find it difficult to understand the importance of it and how to create it. Our programme will help them to identify their vision, explain it clearly, so people understand it and get their teams on board in bringing that vision to life.

We are also delighted to welcome 2 champions to the programme; Dr Karise Hutchinson and Professor Philip Bain. Philip is the owner of award winning small business “Shredbank” and NI Chair of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and is our employer role model having grown his business from micro to small. Karise is Head of Business and Enterprise at the Ulster University Business School, leading researcher in SME growth and development and Vice-Chair at CEA.Karise brings a wealth of knowledge having delivered extensive leadership programmes to micro and small firms for over 15 years.

The programme will launch with an inaugural conference in Coleraine on 12th November which will serve to prioritise a new leadership skills agenda for micro firms in NI, demonstrating that investment in the leadership of these firms will reap real business benefits and in turn, grow our local economy.

The conference marks the beginning of the programme which will be offered in 2 phases in January and March 2016. The programme will offer a range of workshops, mentoring, lunch and learn sessions combined with online learning designed to transform micro business owners into excellent leaders, enabling them to achieve their most ambitious professional and personal goals.

Mervyn Langtry, from the Department for Employment and Learning said: “I congratulate the Causeway Enterprise Agency on its success in securing support for the Micro Firm Leader Development Programme. This was achieved in the face of stiff competition from the rest of the United Kingdom.

“This programme has the potential to directly address the need for the development of management and leadership skills in micro businesses in Northern Ireland. Micro businesses make up nearly 90% of firms in Northern Ireland and their success is crucial to the overall well-being of the economy and. We look forward to seeing this programme making a positive impact in the productivity and prosperity of micro businesses in the future.”

The project is one of 8 that have been selected as part of the UK Futures Programme, run by UKCES. Each is trialling innovative ways to improve the productivity of small businesses in their local community by boosting their leadership and entrepreneurship skills. In particular the projects will identify new ways to help small businesses who haven’t previously had any leadership or entrepreneurial training.

Julie Kenny CBE DL, founder of Pyronix Ltd, a leading small business in the security sector, and Commissioner at UKCES commented:

“Small businesses form the backbone of the UK economy. Yet constraints on their time and resources mean they are the least likely to develop the leadership and management skills that will help them grow.

“Owner managers and senior leaders of small companies need to spend their time and money wisely, and see clear benefits from the start. Current training programmes are often too broad or vague to be usefully applied in the real world. Simply gaining access to good programmes can also be difficult - for instance if you operate in a more rural area.

“We need new ways to reach these businesses, and we need solutions that are relevant to each small firm. The anchor institutions we will be working with have demonstrated a strong understanding of the specific issues that small businesses face in their local community. They have also shown that they have the ability to reach out to businesses who often find themselves excluded from national programmes.”

Each project represents a joint investment with UKCES, with organisations investing in cash, in-kind, or both, alongside a maximum government contribution of £200,000 per project. The total government contribution is £1.3 million.

Owners of Micro-Businesses based in the North West are invited to register their interest at

CEA launch Lead2Grow a government backed leadership development programme for the NI Micro-Business Sector


Sponsors at Flowerfield for the Social Media for Business conference are Philip Bain of the Chartered Management Institute and Shredbank, Head of the Business School at UU Karise Hutchinson, guest speaker Social Media Guru Wayne Denner with Jayne Taggart Chief Executive at the Causeway Enterprise Agency.Picture by Clancy Photography


Social Media guru tells businesses about the importance of a good Social Media Plan

Social media guru, Wayne Denner, enthused local businesses on the importance of a social media plan at a recent seminar hosted by Causeway Enterprise Agency, in association with the Chartered Management Institute, Ulster University and Causeway Chamber of Commerce.

Wayne demystified the latest social media trends, explaining how companies can use ‘News Jacking’ to piggyback off the day’s biggest news stories to draw attention to their own brands; how ‘Content Marketing’ is so much more valuable than traditional publicity and, critically, how a well thought out ‘Social Media Plan’ is key to successful social media engagement. Wayne also covered the popular phenomenon of ‘Live Streaming’, as well as how to effectively generate leads through social media; and finished off the seminar with the ultimate ‘Essential Toolbox’ for social media marketing.

Philip Bain, Chair of CMI said “The Chartered Management Institute were delighted to have sponsored such an exceptional event that was hosted and organised by Causeway Enterprise. This digital event truly delivered what it promised, giving us rich insights into what we all need to know and do as business owners in this ever changing social media world.”

Jayne Taggart, CEO of the Causeway Enterprise Agency, said “Marketing techniques are forever changing, so it is critical for our businesses to keep up-to-date with the latest marketing trends and innovations. We try to do this through our regular seminars, whilst ensuring that we secure speakers who are at the forefront of their industry.”



Social Media guru tells businesses about the importance of a good Social Media Plan


Fiona Bradley of Fiona Bradley Training and Consulting welcomed to the Causeway Enterprise Agency by Chief Executive Jayne Taggart for the Women in Business conference on Confidence in Women. Picture by Clancy Photography


'Confidence in Women - An asset not a crime'

The concept of confidence in women was explored at a recent Woman in Business NI event at Causeway Enterprise Agency. Facilitator Fiona Bradley spoke to a range of local business women, from a variety of industry sectors, affirming that women need to learn to embrace confidence as an asset in both their personal and professional lives.

Jayne Taggart, CEO of Causeway Enterprise Agency, and Causeway Regional Ambassador for WIBNI, said,

“I am often struck by the demand by women in business for this type of seminar, therefore highlighting how the whole area of confidence can be something so many women still struggle with. This inspirational seminar reminded us women of the importance of truly valuing our strengths – so that we can have the confidence to take our businesses to where they need to go.”

At the event, which was free for WIBNI members, participants learnt about how to stop negative self-talk and its limiting behaviours, how to dress to feel good, how to drop the energy vampires and how to unapologetically embrace and share their strengths.

One of the delegates, Heather Dempster from Javelin Success said,

“We explored the area of confidence, learnt how to reframe negative self-thoughts, how to manage people who drain us and to focus on our strengths. The round table discussion in groups was hilarious at times, but provided a great opportunity for networking and building relationships.”

'Confidence in Women - An asset not a crime'



Established in 1998 by William and Stephanie Holmes, Moorbrook Lodge Trout Fishery in Castlerock has gone from strength to strength over the last 16 years.


And, with a Venture Causeway investment of £10,000 awarded to the fishery in 2013, they’ve now expanded their offering to include a new coffee shop and increased their fishing stock supply.

When Stephanie pitched to the Venture Causeway champions, she hoped to receive some business mentoring support, as well as important financial investment. She subsequently gained four champions through the initiative, as well as the means to expand the business. Her champions included Dr Mark McKinney of ATG Group Coleraine, Norman Lynas of Lynas Food Service, John Armstrong of Armstrong Medical Ltd and Karen Yates of Zing Design and Print.

“I pitched to Venture Causeway for a coffee shop and to extend the fishery,” she says. With the backing and support of Venture Causeway secured, Moorbrook Lodge Trout Fishery was then able to create a new café, as well as six part-time jobs for the area. As well as boosting employment locally, the investment also added a new dimension to the business and offered something new for customers to enjoy.

“We had a building available on site that used to be a shop but had always dreamt of turning this into a café to attract more visitors and provide added value to those people fishing at Moorbrook. The funding helped us make it a reality and get the café up and running,” says Stephanie. “We now have five girls working part-time in the summer and one at the weekends throughout the year.”

“Mark McKinney in particular was very good,” she adds. “He came out and gave me some great business advice and support, and brought out groups of people to fish.

“We already offered fly-fishing and wanted to invest in stocking a coarse lake, with bigger fish – with the help of Venture Causeway we did just that!”

Fishing for the future!


Pictured L-R: George Robinson MLA, Dr Karise Hutchinson (Director CEA), Gregory Campbell MP, Adrian McQuillan MLA, Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Jonathan Bell, Cllr Trevor Clarke, CEA Chief Executive Jayne Taggar, Dr Mark McKinney (Director CEA) and Norman Lynas (Director CEA)  

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister, Jonathan Bell, has praised local businesses for the positive contribution they are making to the economy.

Speaking during a visit to Coleraine and Portstewart, Jonathan Bell said he had been impressed by the wealth of skills and talent within the local area.

Mr Bell visited Causeway Enterprise Agency, Lynas Food Services, Zing Design and Print and Instagiv in Portstewart.

Paying tribute to Chief Executive Jayne Taggart and her team, Jonathan Bell said: “Over the last 10 years at Causeway Enterprise Agency, Jayne and her staff have supported 1,084 new business start-ups, generating an economic contribution to the Causeway area of £65.04 million and 1,734 jobs.

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate them for their contribution to the successful delivery of Invest Northern Ireland’s Regional Start Initiative across the North West Region.”

He also met with a number of councillors, MLAs Adrian McQuillan and George Robinson and East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell.

“It has been a real pleasure to meet with business people from Coleraine and Portstewart today and I would like to thank the MP, Gregory Campbell, and MLA Adrian McQuillan for inviting me to the area.

“From print and design, to food services and mobile technology - today I saw a wide range of the innovation and skill that gives local businesses a vibrancy that will continue to pay dividends for the economy.

“By investing in new product development and external markets, local businesses have shown they can maintain a strong foothold in terms of ongoing sustainability and growth.”

Source: Coleraine Times


Minister Jonathan Bell Hails Local Businesses


To celebrate International Women’s Day 2015 Causeway Enterprise Agency invites local women on Thursday 05th March to the Royal Portrush Golf Club for their annual Go Women Event sponsored by Invest Northern Ireland and Coleraine Borough Council in association with Causeway Chamber of Commerce and Women in Business.  Sarah Travers will compere the event which will feature a key note address from one of NI’s most successful female entrepreneurs – Mary McCall founder and Managing Director of - an online promotional platform designed to drive digital and mobile footfall into local businesses.  

In the three years since launch, TreatTicket has gained over 450,000 ‘opt in’ subscribers; sells ‘treats’ in 31 cities throughout the UK; and has developed an innovative new mobile self-service Saas platform to connect local businesses to local shoppers. In addition to launching and growing one of NI’s most innovative and successful e-commerce businesses, Mary has secured £1M in private investment since 2011, despite the challenges presented by the current economic climate. has already won a number of prestigious industry accolades, winning a Digital Advertising NI award; a Chartered Institute of Marketing Excellence Award; and Business Eye Awards.  It was named as one of the Top 50 Belfast Businesses; has formed a successful marketing partnership with UTV Media plc and was recently invited by the London Stock Exchange to join their ELITE programme.

Go Women, now in its 11th year marks the date by encouraging, motivating, recognising and celebrating female entrepreneurship with an annual supper and networking event that typically attracts over 100 women. In addition to the key note address Sarah Travers will interview a panel of successful local business women including Leonna Kane of Broighter Gold, Sharon Schindler of Shola Coach B&B, Louise McKeag of McKeag Opticians and Sue McClaughlan of Bluebird Care, all award winning local business women.

Jayne Taggart, Chief Executive of Causeway Enterprise Agency, organiser of the Go Women event encourages women of all ages and backgrounds to come along and learn from these inspiring business women saying “All around the world, International Women's Day represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women and we have some fantastic success stories right here on our doorstep which we will celebrate on the night. Our Go Women event provides an opportunity for women to learn from these talented female entrepreneurs, to network and to discover tips and techniques on how to start up and grow their own businesses. Whether you are employed and thinking about career progression, are thinking about starting up your own business or want to learn how to grow your business this event offers lots of tips, advice and sign posting. Business advisors and mentors will be on hand throughout the evening from Causeway Enterprise Agency, Invest Northern Ireland and Coleraine Borough Council to discuss funded business support programmes to help women start up and grow their businesses. Women in Business NI and Causeway Chamber are also supporting the event and will be available to discuss the benefits of joining their business networking organisations.

The ticket only event starts at 6.30pm. Further information and tickets are available at

Causeway Enterprise Agency encourage women to “make it happen” in business in 2015


Dara’s baking hobby is now making him dough thanks to support from Causeway Enterprise Agency and Network Personnel. Pictured from right to left are Anna Logan of Causeway Enterprise Agency, Dara OhArtghaile of Ursa Minor Bakery and Geraldine Anslow of Network Personnel

Starting a business can be a challenge and never more so than when the person wanting to start up has limited resources. Access to funding for start-ups can be challenging and particularly if the individual is unemployed. Causeway Enterprise Agency in partnership with Network Personnel is committed to helping the unemployed and removing the barriers they may be experiencing when trying to start up a business. As a result of this support new businesses are starting up in Ballycastle, creating new jobs in the town and resulting in a positive result for the local community.

Through Invest NI’s Regional Start Initiative “Go For It” offered at Causeway Enterprise Agency in Ballycastle, entrepreneurs receive free business training and mentoring to explore their business ideas and develop a business plan. Where further specialist training or specific qualifications are required Network Personnel provide this through their “Source” Programme. As a further incentive to unemployed individuals a NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) Grant from Invest NI is provided when the business is set up.

Business is mounting up for Joni and Ian

Business is mounting up for Joni  McCord (centre left)  and Ian White (far right) having received support from Anna Logan of Causeway Enterprise Agency (L) and Geraldine Anslow of Network Personnel (centre right)  

Business partners Joni McCord and Ian White set up “In the Mount” framing business in autumn 2014 after completing “Go For It” at Causeway Enterprise Agency and receiving training through “Source” with Network Personnel. Ian attended training in framing and Joni completed a Creative Crafts Level 2 qualification equipping them with the specialist skills required to operate and manage their business. Joni and Ian commented “The support from both Causeway Enterprise Agency and Network Personnel has been so invaluable, we could not have got to where we are today without Anna and Geraldine.”

Find In The Mount on Facebook

Dara’s passion for baking is now making him dough.

Dara OhArtghaile of Ursa Minor Bakery pictured with the team at Lost & Found Coleraine who he supplied with his speciality breads

When Dara OhArtghaile contacted Causeway Enterprise Agency he had a wanted to start a business baking speciality bread, however being unemployed he was being held back because of a lack of funds to pay for a specialist bread making course. 

Dara sings the praises of both Go For It and Source and says that “I never could have done this without the support I got from Anna Logan at Causeway Enterprise Agency, that is how it all started, I contacted her to see if I could turn what was essentially a hobby into a business. Anna helped me develop my idea and write my business plan and then put me in touch with Geraldine Anslow at Network Personnel. Through their “Source” Programme I secured a funded place on a speciality Bread making course in Bath with French Bread Maker Richard Bertinet.  The course really broadened my experience and helped me understand how I could change things and develop my own new recipes without destroying the essence of the bread. The training and support I received is definitely the reason why I now have a successful business and I am really excited to develop the business further in 2015.

Upon completion of both courses Dara secured his NEET grant from Invest NI and used it to set up his business. Dara has not looked back and now spends his days making all sorts of dough. His breads are a firm favourite on the menu in cafes and restaurants all over the Causeway Coast including Thyme & Co Ballycastle, Lost & Found in Coleraine and Babushka in Portrush.

Find Ursa Minor Bakery on their website, or on Facebook and Twitter

Have a business idea?  Need a business plan?  Contact Anna Logan today by email here or call Anna on 02870 356318 ext 5

More details on the Source programme can be found on the Network Personnel website

Partnership approach removes barriers to Business Start-ups in Ballycastle


Attending the Women in Business event held at the Bellisle Spa are from the left Eimear McDermott of Voya, Sharon Thorpe, Bellisle Spa Manager, guest Jan McCrudden of Cherished China Vintage Hire with Jayne Taggart of  Causeway Enterprise Agency

North Coast Women in Business members enjoyed a morning of Christmas networking in December, courtesy of Bellisle House & Spa in Coleraine, who sponsored and hosted the event

The group were treated to a tour by Bellisle Spa manager, Sharon Thorpe, as well as complementary mini treatments, including hand and arm massages. North Coast’s WIB NI Regional Ambassador, Jayne Taggart, also received a free facial during a demo from organic skincare brand, Voya.

With tasty mince pies and refreshments, plus a gift from Aromatherapy Associates for each member and free entry to a fabulous prize draw, it was another great festive event from WIB NI. Congratulations to the prize-winner, Janet Millar, who will now enjoy a free treatment at Bellisle House & Spa!

If you would like to attend events like this, sign up for our newsletter by clicking here, or to get more information on the Women in Business network visit  their website

Women leading the way


The next time you source a hard-to-find item, think twice, as it might just reveal a gap in the market for a great business idea…

That’s precisely what happened to Maurice Lucas in 2009, when he went hunting for a few artificial trees for his house. Unable to find what he wanted, he turned to the internet, but discovered that to get his trees, they’d have to come from England – with a hefty postal charge attached.

“I thought - if I’m struggling to find these, everybody else will be struggling,” he says. Without further ado, his business idea for selling artificial plants was born and having recently left his manager’s job with a local retailer, Maurice decided to Go for it.   

“I went on Causeway Enterprise Agency’s Go for it programme,” he says. “I had my business idea and they took me through the business plan.”

Having sold his car to buy stock, Maurice had moved Best Artificial from his home to a Causeway Enterprise workplace unit by the end of the year. 

“CEA have been fantastic the whole way with me,” he says. “They’re there every step of the way. Even five years down the line, I’m still going there for advice.”

Initially planning to open a small shop and sell via ebay, Maurice’s internet sales took off and Best Artificial now sells a wide range of artificial trees, gardenware, flower and topiary balls through ebay, Amazon and Facebook, as well as via email marketing.

With seven full-time staff, Maurice has subsequently seen his business grow at the rate of 80% per year. 
As he says: “That’s fantastic!” 

Artificial is simply the Best!


Brothers, Connory and Damian McGill, fulfilled their career ambitions when they launched Sign-It Design in 1998 with the help of Causeway Enterprise Agency.

With Damian working in London and Connory creating CAD (computer-aided design) drawings for a local electrical company, both were keen for a change. Computers were slowly beginning to be used in signage design and with experience in creating logos, signage and fliers, Connory quickly identified a gap in the market for fully fabricated signage. 

 “We were the first sign company in Northern Ireland to use a digital camera to put images onto signs,” he says. “Then we started doing brand design.”

With Connory kick-starting the business from home, Damian joined as partner and the pair took part in what is now the Regional Start Initiative at Causeway Enterprise Agency. Funded by Invest NI, the programme provided a start-up grant which helped the brothers build their business and they subsequently moved into a CEA workplace unit in Loughanhill.

“We spent three years in the CEA unit - from 2002-2005,” says Damian McGill. “It was a great help and they gave great advice to us.”

Now in their impressive new factory in Wattstown Business Park, Coleraine, Sign-It currently employ a full-time workforce of 11, providing a full range of in-house brand management services. 

With five vans on the road, they cover the North Coast, Limavady, Dungiven, Maghera, Kilrea, Ballymena and Ballycastle areas, with McAtamney Butchers, Morelli Ice Cream, Lynas Foodservice, Ground Espresso Bars Ltd and Bob & Bert’s Coffee, amongst their local clients.

Says Damian: “We went from nothing to something!”

Signs of success…