Going for Growth, an Irish programme which helps ambitious women entrepreneurs grow their business, is launching a call out for women entrepreneurs in Kildare to apply for its 2014 programme.
The business development initiative matches established women entrepreneurs and very experienced senior business executives, who have successfully grown businesses from small beginnings, with female owner managers of existing businesses who are determined to strengthen and grow their businesses. In a spirit of collaboration, ‘Lead Entrepreneurs’ act as role models to the selected participants and share their knowledge and experience with them on a completely voluntary basis.
Since the pilot scheme was launched in 2008, five Going for Growth programmes have been completed, with over 300 women from all over the country involved in a diverse range of businesses. Previous participants from Kildare have included: Ceara McNeela from Asgard Industrial Systems Ltd., Moya O’Brien from ICEP Europe and Bernie Everard from Re-imagine Signage Solutions.
Moya O’Brien said: “I found it very helpful to meet with similar minded women who were experiencing the same challenges in growing a business. The questions posed by the group leader were thought provoking and helped to clarify strategy and direction for growth. Taking time out from a business to reflect and plan for the future was very helpful. I found the sessions very stimulating and it helped me renew my enthusiasm for business.”
There are 60 fully-funded places available in the new Going for Growth programme, which gets underway in February with no fees for participants.
Lead Entrepreneurs include Ireland’s most successful businesswoman. Those who will be involved in the latest cycle include Mary McKenna, Managing Director of Tour America, Lulu O Sullivan, Founder and CEO of Giftsdirect.com, Colette Twomey, CEO of Clonakilty Black Pudding, Fiona O’Carroll, Director, Independent News & Media, Digital Division, Fidelma McGuirk, CEO, Taxback.com, Miriam Byrne, Founder and Managing Director, City Analysts Ltd, Monica Flood, Founder and former CEO, OLAS and Susan Spence, Co-founder and Executive Chairman, SoftCo.
Women who are the owner manager of a business, which has been trading for two years or more, and who are serious about growing their company, are encouraged to apply. The programme, which involves a time commitment of one half day a month for six months, is free of charge to suitable applicants. A National Forum, which brings together all the Lead Entrepreneurs and participants into a single venue for day-long workshops and networking, is incorporated into the cycle and participants cover their own expenses for this event.
This will be the sixth cycle of Going for Growth which is being supported and funded by the Equality for Women Measure 2010-2013, which is financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Department of Justice and Equality, and by Enterprise Ireland.
The OECD and EU have described Going for Growth as “inspiring” in a major new joint report to be published later this month. The OECD LEED (Local Economic and Employment Development) study “The Missing Entrepreneurs”, lists Going for Growth as an “inspiring practice” in inclusive entrepreneurial policy.
According to the OECD LEED report women in Ireland were 2.5 times less likely to start a business than men in 2011, and as early stage entrepreneurs they were nine times less likely to have significant growth aspirations for their new businesses. The report says: “The key element of this initiative is the manner in which it is led and championed by the private sector and supported by the public sector. The calibre of the lead volunteers underpins the success of the initiative and the fact that the groups are composed exclusively of women contributes to a full engagement by the participants.”
Paula Fitzsimons, the National Director and Founder of Going for Growth, said: “Ireland needs all the entrepreneurial talent available to it and Irish women have a major role to play in delivering the economic benefits and job creation opportunities that successful entrepreneurship can bring. Going for Growth is designed to support women to fully exploit their entrepreneurial talent and to achieve growth in sales, employment and profitability. The fifth cycle of Going for Growth saw two of every three participants grow their turnover by an average of 17%, 750 jobs being sustained, 50 new jobs created and six of the participants exporting for the first time. I believe that in 2014 we can exceed these positive results. We’re encouraging women entrepreneurs in Kildare to apply for the 2014 programme and to become part of this success.”
Female entrepreneurs in Kildare that are interested in applying for the next Going for Growth programme can access information and register their interest at www.goingforgrowth.com.
The closing date for the receipt of completed applications is January 24th 2014.