Two Leitrim cousins who have discovered a clever use for cow manure will represent Ireland at a global showcase in New York which will celebrate youth entrepreneurship.
Through the Foróige Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), Linda Dolan (17) and Clare Dolan (16) established their business ‘MURE’, which produces odourless briquettes made from dried cow manure.
The fifth year students from St Clare’s Comprehensive School in Manorhamilton won an all-expenses paid trip to New York after winning the programme’s International Business Plan Competition.
They will represent Ireland at NFTE’s Global Showcase which celebrates the power of entrepreneurship education. There, they will rub shoulders with Chelsea Clinton, as well as young entrepreneurs from the United States, Australia, China, Mexico, Singapore, Israel, Germany and Belgium.
Commenting on their win, Clare said: “I can’t believe we’ve won - setting up our own business has been such a great experience. MURE’s aim is to reduce global warming as our product is renewable and made out of a completely natural resource – cow manure. ‘Your effluence is our affluence’ is our business motto,” she said.
Explaining where they came up with their innovative idea, Clare said: “We were on our family farm when we were discussing the amount of cow manure that is being wasted and not being used for anything. We were trying to think of ways to turn this vast amount of cow manure into euros when we came up with the idea to dry it out and burn it.”
A year-long study carried out by the girls, in conjunction with their school and Sligo Institute of Technology on their product found it to be more efficient than its peat counterparts.
“We compared the calorific values of our MURE briquettes to peat briquettes and it showed that ours has a higher calorific value and has a longer burning time,” continued Linda.
However, it hasn’t all been a walk in the park for the duo. “One of our biggest challenges was that our customers were worried about an odour from cow manure briquettes, but once they are dried and treated correctly there is no odour from them at all,” she explained.
A MURE fire log costs €4 and fire bag, which consists of their briquettes, kindlers and a fire lighter costs €5. Since MURE was established in October 2014, the business has generated an income of €1,154.
The girls are hoping to take their product nationwide.
“We are in consultation with McPartland Fuels, Corrib Oil and also several Apple Green stores asking them to stock our products,” said Linda.
The girls are not merely milking their success. MURE donates 10 per cent of its profits to the Irish Cancer Society and Mental Health Ireland.
Four other businesses reached the finals of the International Business Plan competition which was judged by Patrick Rochford from the Department of Enterprise and Innovation, Eadaoin O’Connor from Grant Thornton and Aoife Campbell from Jazz Pharmaceuticals.
NFTE’s Global Showcase will take place in New York on March 30.