Sligo LEADER Partnership

1. What does Sligo LEADER Partnership do?

County Sligo LEADER Partnership Company is responsible for delivering programmes which are aimed at developing and improving the quality of life for the people of Sligo. The company was formed in 1996 in an effort to address locally the issues of economic and social underdevelopment in County Sligo. Sligo LEADER Partnership and has been contracted to deliver the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 in Co. Sligo.

As part of its remit, Co. Sligo LEADER Partnership works with SMEs and Start-ups to develop their business by providing a range of supports including mentoring, marketing, equipment, training and capital support.

2. Why are you supporting Swell Sligo and what are your objectives for it?

Co. Sligo is home to a significant number of digital micro-enterprises. The exact nature of these businesses is very varied but they operate in fields such as Design, Software Development, Digital Marketing and Web-based services amongst other things. While they may not fit neatly into any one sector they have popularly been deemed “Creative”; it is probably more accurate to suggest that they are characterised as innovative, service led enterprises which share the medium of digital technology as a means of conducting their business OR use the web to lever business to purchase their product or service.

Apart from this categorisation, there are other shared traits of these businesses. They are generally sole traders or have less than 2 full-time equivalent staff. The business owners have also made a concerted decision to locate in Co. Sligo as a lifestyle choice based on quality of life, spectacular scenery, work-life balance. Many businesses are geographically remote or isolated, with many business owners choosing to work from home in rural locations. There is a very great sense from the individuals that a sense of place is tacit in the work they produce. Their decision to locate in, or in many cases, return to, Co. Sligo is a strongly emotional factor shared by all the businesses – however difficult that may be to articulate in their businesses. There is a strong sense that in expressing their business ethos, the business owners also attempt to communicate this sense of place – a kind of “this is what I do and where I do it is important to me”, which similar businesses in larger urban hubs do not do.


  • There is simply not enough work in the local market to sustain these types of businesses. They are, due to their nature, working in a global marketplace but suffer from two main issues.
  • As the businesses are dependent on the global market, they can individually lack the capacity to attract large contracts as there may be gaps in the services a single-handed business can provide.
  • Their isolation also means that they have no peer support network to support business development opportunities, or to support the collective growth of the sector in the County by creating a type of Digital Co-op.
  • A marketplace perception that their location may impinge on their ability to effectively compete, in quality or competency, with similar businesses in large urban hubs (principally Dublin)

Project Aims:

  • To develop a sustainable network of businesses from this sector which offers members an opportunity to meet, share information about their work and experience and potentially offer opportunities to collaborate to bid for larger contracts by combining business competencies
  • To promote Co. Sligo as a vibrant place to live and work and to develop its identity as a nucleus for digital businesses.
  • What type of supports do you offer existing and potential business in Sligo?

While LEADER is well known for its grant support to community projects, it is possibly less well known for the grant aid it has available for Small Business. Approximately 50% of LEADER grant aid is specifically ear-marked for Small innovative Rural Businesses. Rural in this context refers to any business outside of Sligo Town. The purpose of the fund is to advance the business and marketing skills of Co. Sligo businesses in anticipation of their own new marketing efforts and product development. Adopting an empowering approach that nurtures self-esteem and morale while enabling clear, strategic development of the business.

Grant support is available towards certain strategic development costs, including Capital, equipment, marketing, mentoring, Analysis and Development. This list is by no means exhaustive and we would urge any business or start up to talk with us to determine if we might be able to help.

Made in Sligo and VOYA are examples of two businesses who have benefitted from LEADER support.

3. What to do if you are an existing business or potential start-up in Sligo and want to find out more?

Talk to us! You might not have a beautifully packaged idea just yet, but our team is here to talk you though the process and assist you to develop that idea through to funding stage. Don’t be frightened – just call 071 9141138 or email Shona at