Partnership encouraging rural ladies to sow seeds of enterprise

Entrepreneur Shirley Palmer pictured with Ulster Bank's John Ferris and Gabi Burnside.Entrepreneur Shirley Palmer pictured with Ulster Bank’s John Ferris and Gabi Burnside.

Seed Formula, provided by corporate agency LEDCOM and business consultancy The Simple Series, was partially funded by a grant from Ulster Bank as part of their targeted strategy to introduce more women to the world of entrepreneurship.

Launched in 2019, the Ulster Bank Enterprise Funds offer organizations £ 15,000 to run programs aimed at encouraging individuals with normally underrepresented backgrounds to start or grow businesses. Successful beneficiaries this year included the Belfast Multicultural Association; Northwest Company; AwkakenHub and the Seed Formula.

The 12-week program began with a Seed Summit on Friday, September 10th, where three local entrepreneurs shared their business stories in hopes of inspiring other women to follow in their footsteps and discover the positive effects of new business ventures on rural cities to highlight.

LEDCOM’s Chief Executive Officer, Ken Nelson MBE, said; “We have over 36 years of experience helping business start-ups in rural communities and strive to inspire and support individuals on their business trip, including women entrepreneurs.

“The main goal of the Seed Formula is not only to empower women entrepreneurs, but also to continue to improve the communities in which they live. We know our rural women have a lot to offer the business community and we look forward to working with these women entrepreneurs as they get their businesses off the ground. “

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

Serial entrepreneur and Simple Series founder Shirley Palmer noted that women who live in rural areas are still underrepresented in favor of their female counterparts who live in larger cities. These findings were one of the main reasons the seed formula was formed, explained Shirley.

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

“Seed Formula attendees are learning everything they need to know about running a successful business, and we intend to build on this first program to bring it to more women across Northern Ireland in 2022.”

John Ferris, Regional Ecosystem Manager at Ulster Bank, which sponsored Seed Formula, said supporting projects like Seed Formula is key to tackling the imbalances that women entrepreneurs continue to face when it comes to access to finance .

“At Ulster Bank, we are committed to empowering women entrepreneurs and giving them the tools and networks they need to start or scale a business. This partnership with Seed Fund has the potential to create transformative change for women; especially in rural areas, and we are delighted that we have been able to help bring women entrepreneurs even closer to potential investors through the Enterprise Partner Funding grant.

“We look forward to the results of the project and wish all participants all the best for the next step on their business trip.”

To find out more about Ulster Bank’s support for entrepreneurship, visit

The seed formula begins on Wednesday September 29th, more information can be found at