Myself and my colleague Michelle Murphy were pleased to attend the 3rd Annual SCCUL Entrepreneurship Awards in the Ardilaun Hotel last Friday 16th November 2012. We were invited in our capacity as judges who had been involved in the interviewing process that whittled the 132 entrants in this competition down to 7 category winners, 7 category runners up and 16 One to Watch winners.
On the day of the ceremony 108 of the 132 companies who entered this competition took over the ground floor of the Ardilaun Hotel with their exhibition stands which showcased the goods and services of these very enterprising companies.
This was the third year of the SCCUL Awards and they have gone from strength to strength over the period. SCCUL is an acronym for St Columba’s Credit Union. This visionary board of this credit union deserves great credit for initiating these awards which are a fitting recognition for entrepreneurs who have taken the big step of investing everything they own in a business venture in the hope of it becoming a commercial success. These courageous entrepreneurs deserve great credit and support in setting out on such an adventure in the middle of a deep and prolonged recession. Participating in this competition award has given all of these entrepreneurs much needed encouragement to persist with their dream of establishing a successful business.
The main person behind the event is Liam Bluett the charismatic General Manager of SCCUL Enterprises who must be the most successful networker in Galway. He has a way of getting people to give of their time to make such an event a success and to build on it each year. His network ensured that the awards were given added recognition this year by the presence of An Taoiseach Enda Kenny who presented the award to the category winners and runners up and the overall winner award.
The event was also given added credibility by the high calibre panel of judges who interviewed the category winners to arrive at the overall winner. This panel was made up of Gavin Duffy from Dragons Den, Jim Murren former Area Manager of IDA Western Region, Barry Egan, Area Manager Enterprise Ireland Western Region, Declan Dooley President Galway Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Hannah Kiely CEO HC Financial Services.
I was pleased to be asked to announce the One to Watch award winners who had their awards presented to them by Tom Connell Director of Services Galway City Council and Pat O’Sullivan SCCUL Enterprises Board Member.
It is hoped that many of the companies anticipating in this competition will put forward their names for mentoring assistance from one of the 60 SCCUL mentors who provide mentoring assistance free of charge. The SCCUL mentoring initiative spun out of last year’s competition and has already provided mentoring advise to more than 160 business owners and it is envisaged that this number will grow significantly in the coming year.
All in all this was a very inspiring event and I left it feeling a sense of admiration for all the entrants in the competition and a sense of appreciation of the board of St Columba’s Credit Union and of Liam Bluett for initiating this competition and for making it such a big success.
Roll on 2013.