EVEN during the economic downturn a number of enterprising people from Irvinestown have defied the recession by opening five new shops in the last five weeks.

For at least three of the shop owners the new businesses started off as hobbies but have now become a way for them to make a living in what is a difficult and challenging environment.

Dervilia McGinn-Brennan opened DD's Flowers last week and admits it was "a brave thing to do".

"I think you have to take the chance and do it. If you don't do it now you never will. I was doing it part-time on the side as well as a full-time job but as it was getting busier I thought I might as well give it a go," she said, explaining that it took just five weeks to set the business up.

"I had two very helpful workmen in and they put in a lot of time and effort. I am really pleased with how it is going. I would say if you don't try it you will never know, I definitely have no regrets." Frustrated at being out of work, Gerard Baranowski opened MobTech last month in a bid to bring in a wage until he finds a more permanent job.

"I decided it was time to start out on my own. I was fixing things for �5 at home and I thought 'no more' and I started my own business because I can fix things that not many people can't," he said.

Mr Baranowski says he couldn't have waited any longer to secure employment with another company and decided he would create his own employment but he says it wasn't an easy process.

"It wasn't straight forward. Everyone says you can get enough support but at the end of the day the only support I am getting is a grant for an employee but that's not even full-time. I am starting from the beginning." Andrea Gourley set up her nail products and training business 'Pirna Pourie' in Irvinestown last month after previously working from home.

"If I don't try when will the best time be to do it? I have to try and fight my way through it, but also offer things. When we come out of the recession everything will be changed anyway and so will the way people do business." She described setting up the business as "quite frightening" but added: "If I don't try it how would I know? I am happy with the way it is going and everyone seems over the moon. I just hope it continues, I want to get known all over Ireland." A mother and baby shop and a car garage have also recently opened in Irvinestown. Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has praised the new business owners for "showing initiative".

Now the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA is encouraging others to follow in their entrepreneurial footsteps.

"I commend them, I really do. I think it is encouraging that here we have a number of new premises in Irvinestown, a town that has always had a very positive outlook and a very strong ethos of helping others. I would encourage anybody who is thinking of starting out on their own but needs a business plan to get the help that is available through the Go for it programme," she said.

The programme by Invest Northern Ireland provides tailored advice and support programmes. To make an appointment with one of the business advisors call 0800 027 0639 or for more information visit Fermanagh Enterprise Centre at 21 Lackaghboy Road, Enniskillen.