Partnership encouraging rural women to sow seeds of business

Rural women are being encouraged to sow their own seeds and start a business via the Seed Formula; a programme aiming to inspire and support women living in rural towns and villages across Northern Ireland.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 24th September 2021, 8:03 am
Entrepreneur Shirley Palmer pictured with John Ferris and Gabi Burnside from Ulster Bank.
Entrepreneur Shirley Palmer pictured with John Ferris and Gabi Burnside from Ulster Bank.

Delivered by business enterprise agency, LEDCOM and business consultancy, The Simple Series, the Seed Formula has been partly funded by a grant from Ulster Bank, as part of its purpose-led strategy to introduce more women into the world of entrepreneurship.

Launched in 2019, the Ulster Bank Enterprise Funds offer organisations £15,000 to deliver programmes aimed at encouraging those from typically underrepresented backgrounds to start or scale a business. This year the successful beneficiaries included Belfast Multicultural Association; Enterprise North West; AwkakenHub and the Seed Formula.

The 12-week programme kicked off with a Seed Summit on Friday September 10 where three local entrepreneurs told their business story in the hope of inspiring other women to follow in their footsteps and highlight the positive impact new business ventures can have on rural towns.

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LEDCOM’s Chief Executive Officer, Ken Nelson MBE, said; “We have over 36 years’ experience supporting business start-ups in rural communities, and we strive to inspire and support individuals on their business journey and that includes female entrepreneurs.

“The main aim of the Seed Formula is not only to empower female entrepreneurs but to further improve the communities in which they reside. We know that our rural women have a lot to offer the world of business and we’re excited to work with these entrepreneurs as they get their business off the ground.”

Research from the Rose Review – a government backed study into female entrepreneurship led by NatWest Group CEO, Alison Rose, found that too many female entrepreneurs still see a lack of funding opportunities as their biggest obstacle to overcome.

Serial entrepreneur and Founder of the Simple Series, Shirley Palmer, identified that women living in rural areas were still being underrepresented in favour of their female counterparts living in larger towns and cities. These findings were one of the main motivations behind the formation of the Seed Formula, Shirley explained.

“Given the challenges of the past year and the pandemic, our economic recovery greatly depends on the untapped potential that women-led businesses can offer.

“Seed Formula participants will learn everything they need to know about running a successful business and we intend to build upon this initial programme to offer it out wider to more women across Northern Ireland in 2022.”

John Ferris, Regional Ecosystem Manager with Ulster Bank, which has backed the Seed Formula, said supporting projects like Seed Formula was key to tackling the imbalance female entrepreneurs continue to face when it comes to accessing funding.

“At Ulster Bank we are committed to supporting female entrepreneurs and providing them with the tools and networks they need to start or scale a business. This partnership with Seed Fund has the potential to deliver transformative change for women; particularly those in rural areas, and we are pleased to have been able to play a role in bringing female entrepreneurs even closer to potential investors through the Enterprise Partner Funding grant.

“We look forward to seeing the outcomes of the project and wish each of the participants well as they take the next step of their business journey.”

To learn more about Ulster Bank’s support for Entrepreneurship, visit

The Seed Formula will begin on Wednesday 29th September, more information can be found at