International foundation chooses Kilkeel music business founder as inspiration

Stephen Henderson pictured at the Citi Micro-entrepreneurship Awards in Glasgow with Amal Gomersall of Citi (left) and broadcaster Kaye Adams

THE 22-year-old founder of a Co Down musical instrument making firm, which has grown from hobby business to supplying musicians all over the world, has triumphed in a UK search for the Young Micro Entrepreneur of the Year.

Stephen Henderson's business, Ruach Music in Kilkeel, makes handmade electric guitars, electric basses, pedal-boards for guitarists, cajons, effects pedals and accessories.

Turnover has tripled this year and the firm, officially established in 2013, now employs six full-time staff.

And an international foundation has named Stephen as Young Micro Entrepreneur of the Year at a Glasgow event attended by a UK-wide audience.

Delivered in partnership with Responsible Finance and the Citi Foundation, the Citi Micro-entrepreneurship Awards recognise best-in-class micro-entrepreneurs and celebrate the responsible finance sector and their contribution to national economies. Ruach Music received a prize of £7,500.

Speaking after the awards ceremony in Glasgow, Stephen said: “It's a privilege to have won this accolade, which is a credit to the entire team behind Ruach, and our collective efforts over the past six years building the business to where it is today, and toward its vision.”

Stephen grew up with a love for music and woodwork, and when he played a cajon (a percussion instrument) for the first time at a friend's house in 2011, he yearned for one of his own – and decided to make one.

With some wood left over, he refined his design of “custom cajons” and began to advertise them online while studying for A-Levels.

Percussionists from all over the UK contacted Henderson to buy his cajons, telling him how much they appreciated the custom features such as a “snare lock” and internal bass pedal. And he soon realised this hobby had potential to become a business.

So in the summer of 2013 after finishing his A-Levels, he secured his first retailer, Matchetts Music in Belfast, and from there the business was born.

Ruach has secured 20 stockists across the UK and distributors operating in the USA and Republic of Ireland, and its online video series 'Ruach Road Sessions' promotes upcoming music and artists.

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