Grow Remote, a community project designed to increase rural populations and boost employment opportunities in remote locations has secured €500,000 in funding from the Irish government, Irish Times reported on January 8.

The not-for-profit, which started as a WhatsApp group in 2018, now has some 60 local communities across Ireland and some 10,000 members, according to the group. It has also expanded internationally moving some projects to areas with similar remote working problems including Scotland.

According to the group, several large companies are using the platform to hire workers, remotely, including Xerox, Lenovo and several other tech-based firms.

The group is one of the first to secure funding as part of the €500,000 from the Regional Enterprise Development Fund with matched funding coming from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland and Western Development.

“We’ll absolutely be raising more as we go. We have a big ambition to change how employment spreads across Ireland and will need a healthy budget to achieve that. It will most likely come from trading income, EU funds and corporate sponsorships,” said Tracy Keogh, a co-founder and an innovation community manager for Bank of Ireland said to the Irish Times.

Grow Remote is one of 26 applicants to have been awarded funding of over €40mn on January 8 by the REDF run by Enterprise Ireland.