Made in Mourne Ltd: creating opportunities for entrepreneurs in the fishing communities of the ‘Kingdom of Mourne’ (2017)

Awarded funds towards the set-up of the ‘MADE in Mourne Ltd’ company.

MADE in Mourne is a ‘Creative community space’ project based in Kilkeel, the fishing capital of Northern Ireland. Kilkeel is nestled at the base of the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland, in what is known locally as the Kingdom of Mourne.

The region has two major employers, aerospace and fishing and a small but developing tourism sector. But not enough variety of local jobs and so the younger generations often move away. Geographically it lies on the border of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, made up predominantly of small rural communities. As such it is out on a limb with a small local customer base, making it difficult to start up and run businesses there. And with Belfast just over an hour to the North and Dublin only two hours to the South, businesses in the Mourne region face stiff competition from thousands of businesses in the cities.

MADE in Mourne is a local solution to generate more local companies and long term local jobs in the Creative Economy – design, copywriting, filmmaking, coding, music, arts, crafts, tourism/aerospace/fishing sector support services, fashion – products and services that can be exported, created by people located in the region.

A crowd-funded community project, MADE in Mourne needed the seed capital to be able to agree terms with the landlord on the building and WOMF was able to step in and make that happen. With the building secured the project became a reality and the community responded. In 98 days of agreeing terms, the doors opened:

The ground floor houses the fabulous ‘MADE in Mourne’ shop that sells locally made original gifts, unique home deco arts & crafts and handmade artisan food;

First floor is theHUB, a creative space complete with meeting rooms, workspaces and an honesty coffee bar for start-ups, small businesses, business folk and community groups to meet, network, collaborate and grow businesses;

Top floor is theSTUDIO, the home of a photographer, Ruach musical instruments and other creative companies.

Link to MADE in Mourne website

A not-for-profit model, the plan is to make the building commercially successful to be able to fund local initiatives, both creative and commercial that help to grow the local creative economy, provide more jobs and help to sustain those who live and work in the Mourne Region.

The company aims to stimulate and foster opportunities for young entrepreneurs in the local community, by providing them with support in their professional development and creating an environment that promotes peer support and strong networking. The underpinning reasoning being that the long term success and development of the “Kingdom of Mourne” community is critically dependent upon creating new opportunities and appropriate support networks for new young people to establish, grow and develop new, fledgling and existing businesses in that community.

Made in Mourne Ltd is an initiative established by local business community leaders (including ANIFPO) and is co-financed by the West of Morecambe Fisheries Ltd (WOMF), The Newry Rural Development Programme and Newry, Mourne and Downe District Council.

This project was financed by Ørsted as an Agreed Donation in return for co-operation of the fishermen during the construction of the Walney Extension offshore wind farm.

“We are extremely grateful to WOMF for their donation as without it we wouldn’t have been able to secure the building. The landlord had another interested party, but we were determined to get in. As soon as we were able to tell the community that we had the building and had set a 100 day target for launch, the project had credibility and the community swung into action and we made it happen. Without the WOMF believing in us and the project, it wouldn’t have happened. Full stop. So we are extremely grateful. As you can see from the website and our facebook page, the end result is spectacular. The locals can’t believe how amazing it looks. In turn this has resulted in great footfall, strong initial sales and artists, crafters, artisans and small businesses already making money. This will be spent not just on their company growth, but locally on dance lessons and football boots for our children, to feed our families and to support other local businesses we spend our money in. Fishing communities like Kilkeel don’t just want projects like this, they need them. This really works and we look forward to keeping in touch to show you how it develops. On behalf of the Mourne community, thank you”.

Jenna StevensonManaging Director and Founder, MADE in Mourne
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