Lead2Grow conference date

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Investing in leadership skills will help Northern Ireland’s largest business sector to realise its full potential.

That is the belief of the organisers of a brand new conference for entrepreneurs that is set to take place in Coleraine this month.

The Lead2Grow micro business conference, organised by Causeway Enterprise Agency (CEA), will be held at the Causeway Coast Vineyard Conference Centre on Tuesday, February 23.

It marks the beginning of the Lead2Grow leadership skills programme funded by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, the first of its kind funded by the body in Northern Ireland.

Jayne Taggart, Chief Executive of Causeway Enterprise Agency commented: “Micro businesses - those that employ less than 10 staff - make up 95 per cent of Northern Ireland’s business population.

“By their nature these businesses have limited capacity to develop the leadership skills to grow their enterprises and are often family run by owners who do not even view themselves as leaders.

“With this event, we are reaching out to micro business leaders, encouraging them to develop their leadership skills and realise their potential.”

The event, hosted by broadcaster Jim Fitzpatrick, is expected to host 150 micro business owners. BBC’s The Apprentice: You’re Fired panellist and serial entrepreneur Lara Morgan will share her leadership advice with delegates while Harry’s Shack proprietor Donal Doherty will tell the story of his rise to success on Portstewart Strand.

The restaurateur opened Harry’s Shack in 2014 and was awarded John and Sally McKennas’ Guide Restaurant of the Year within just four months of trading. Mr Doherty now plans to grow his empire to include three further eateries and a mobile restaurant.

Donal Doherty commented “Whether in the food and drink industry or elsewhere, micro businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. I’m looking forward to supporting these business leaders at the Lead2Grow conference and working to develop the leadership skills that will drive the sector forward.”

The event has been funded by CEA, the Department for Employment and Learning, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, the Chartered Management Institute, Invest NI and UU Business School.