Entrepreneur prepares to be propelled to the next level

Cheryl McWilliams, founder of Mother Bee, which produces handmade skincare products for people and animals, is pictured with Niall Casey, Director of Skills and Strategy, Invest Northern Ireland.
Cheryl McWilliams, founder of Mother Bee, which produces handmade skincare products for people and animals, is pictured with Niall Casey, Director of Skills and Strategy, Invest Northern Ireland.
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Cheryl McWilliams, founder of Mother Bee Skincare, which produces a range of handmade, natural skincare products for horses and other animals, has been selected to take part in a prestigious business start-up programme.

Mother Bee, based in Dungannon, County Tyrone is of one of twenty of Northern Ireland’s highest potential start-up businesses recently selected to participate in the second phase of the highly sought after Invest Northern Ireland Propel Programme. The programme, which is designed to fast-track export focussed business ideas with high growth potential, has now assisted over 140 companies over the past five years, between them having secured over £18m of investment, with over 430 jobs created as a result so far.

The Propel Programme is designed to give each of them the opportunity to work on an accelerated development plan, benefit from expert one-to-one mentoring and attend workshops aimed at making their business ideas investor ready. Each entrepreneur will also gain access to new shared office workspace in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter and up to £20,000 worth of financial support.

Speaking about the economic impact of the programme to date, Niall Casey, Invest Northern Ireland’s Director of Skills and Strategy said:

“The Propel programme is aimed at high calibre entrepreneurs who have the passion and energy to succeed on an international stage. These investment figures are testament to the success of these entrepreneurs, as well as to the success of the programme in helping them create investor ready businesses, which are prepared to compete in export markets.

“The results are confirmation of the significant contribution Propel Programme participants continue to make the local economy and we have no doubt that the 2016 cohort will contribute significantly to these encouraging figures in the years ahead.”

Cheryl and her team produce a range of skincare products, based on an old beeswax recipe passed down from her mother. It’s a technique the family had used for four generations, before a local vet, impressed by its healing properties, encouraged Cheryl to bring it to market to help aid animals with skincare problems. Since then, Mother Bee has gone on to become a trusted supplier to some of the largest thoroughbred studs in the world and its products are exported across the world to countries including New Zealand, France and Sweden.

Speaking about her participation on the Propel Programme Cheryl said: “I was thrilled to be offered a place on the Propel Programme. It’s a landmark opportunity for the business, which is enabling me to challenge our business plan and refine our growth strategy.

“We have some really exciting new products due to launch in the next year, including a range created specifically for people. Lots of our existing customers have already discovered how soothing our products are on human skin and with the help of the Propel Programme mentors, we’ll be revealing this new range soon.

“All in all, it’s a very exciting time for Mother Bee, and with the help of the programme, I am confident that the next year will see Mother Bee grow even further to become a significant international brand, trusted for use on animals, and those who care for them, across the world.”

More information on the Invest Northern Ireland Propel Programme can be found at www.investni.com/propel