Around 250 new jobs are being promised for Castlebar in Co Mayo, with the opening of a hub for companies trying to set up businesses in the developing world.
The initiative is being overseen by OpenSparkz – a company that sources capital for sustainable business models.
The so-called ‘impact investment’ model brings funding from a range of sources, with the end goal of ensuring there is a lasting positive return for local communities.
The Global Sustainability Initiative will involve a number of companies working together at a facility in Castlebar.
These firms will be linked with local landowners in Africa to develop sustainable energy, food and water-related businesses.
40% of all profit generated will then be re-invested in the communities, to advance the provision of health, education and IT infrastructure.
Organisers say the aim is to create a safe and enduring economic model. The initial focus is on projects in South Africa.
A number of research areas have been identified. These include the development of new biomass fuel supplies to mitigate the impact of global warming; promoting the growth of organic foodstuffs and working to enhance the supply of drinking water.
OpenSparkz says it is in the process of completing contracts with ten companies that will operate from the hub.
These are working in the areas of food research, energy and waste management.
A suitable premises has been identified in recent weeks and is expected to be operational before the summer.
The project is being supported by Mayo County Council, with research backing from Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and NUI Galway.
While a variety of companies will be based at the hub in Castlebar, they will be working to achieve common goals – to generate profit and leave a lasting legacy for the communities in which they operate.
The companies involved will have openings in the areas of Research and Development, IT Fund Management and other operational roles.
OpenSparkz founder Declan Conway says there is potential for further expansion but that the first 250 jobs will be filled over three years.
Details of the project will be formally announced by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and representatives from OpenSparkz in Washington this afternoon.
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