‘Open doors to new markets’ was the theme for this year’s National Women’s Enterprise Day (NWED), which was celebrated by over 60 local entrepreneurs at very special afternoon talk and tea in the beautiful surrounds of Killruddery House and Gardens in Bray yesterday. The host and guest speaker Fionnuala Ardee, SEO of Killruddery Estate Enterprises Ltd, inspired and motivated the audience of female entrepreneurs with her story of the various challenges encountered over the last ten years while turning Killruddery House into a successful and profitable enterprise and also maintaining its heritage and the family home.
The audience was treated to Fionnuala’s insights and tips on how women can make it in the business world by embracing challenges and tapping into new and sometimes overlooked markets and by focusing on their strengths and setting clear goals.
Afterwards the audience were invited by Fionnuala and Sheelagh Daly, Head of Local Enterprise, to join in a networking event over afternoon tea in the orangerie.
Organised by the Local Enterprise Offices, including Local Enterprise Office Wicklow, fifteen events were organised around the country with over 1,200 entrepreneurs participating.
The Local Enterprise Offices invited 60 successful female entrepreneurs, including Fionnnuala Ardee, to share their business stories at events in Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Mayo, Carlow, Laois, Tipperary, Cork, Cavan, Monaghan, Meath, Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow and Waterford.
In 2016, the 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) across the country jointly supported 14,300 female entrepreneurs and the National Women’s Enterprise Day initiative is still as important as ever, according to Sheelagh Daly, Head of Local Enterprise Office Wicklow said: “Studies show that women still have a higher fear of failure when it comes to starting a business and can lack confidence in their own skills and knowledge. To help address this, the Local Enterprise Offices teamed up with sixty successful female entrepreneurs all over the country to share and celebrate their stories and to demonstrate how every woman can open doors to new markets and what supports are there to help.”
An Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald, T.D. said: “The events taking place around the country are a true celebration of the potential and achievements of women in business. Women can get close to, and examine, real stories and successes of other female led start-ups. National Women’s Enterprise Day, organised and run by the Local Enterprise Offices, is the ideal opportunity for those female entrepreneurs thinking of starting or expanding their business to learn from other successful businesswomen. Women make a huge contribution to business in Ireland, creating innovative enterprises that are focused on growth and exports in every town and village across the country. I want to encourage more women to set up businesses across our regions and I would encourage you all to avail of the many supports available from your Local Enterprise Office”.
Minister Mitchell O’ Connor, who officially opened the NWED Regional Event at the Leopardstown Pavilion in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown said: “As we celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day across the country, our vision is for Ireland to be among the most entrepreneurial nations in the world and to be a world-class place for women to start and grow a business. The Government, through the Local Enterprise Offices and Enterprise Ireland, have put a suite of supports in place to help achieve this vision. These include the Competitive Fund for Innovative Micro Enterprises, a new Technical Assistance for Micro Exporter grant and the Lean4Micro programme. My message for female entrepreneurs is that when you’re opening doors to new markets, find out how supports from your Local Enterprise Office can ‘unlock’ your company’s growth potential.”
Preparations for Brexit were at the fore at several NWED events around the country and the Manager of Enterprise Ireland’s Brexit Unit, Anne Lanigan said: “Brexit is a very significant challenge to Irish businesses. We expect long term, structural and disruptive change. Our strong recommendation is to prepare for a hard Brexit and prepare now by taking actions that will strengthen your business irrespective of the outcome of Brexit. Diversification or expanding reach is a key element of Enterprise Ireland’s 2020 strategy and is a very effective way to strengthen and grow your business. To mark National Women’s Enterprise Day, we are encouraging more female-led companies to start opening doors to new markets and have a wide range of comprehensive supports in place to assist client companies in doing this.”
Speaking on behalf of local authorities, Philomena Poole, Chief Executive of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, said: “Across the country, female business owners and entrepreneurs will highlight the successes and energies that are required to drive a business forward. We encourage women entrepreneurs from all counties to engage with their local authorities, through their Local Enterprise Offices and avail of the supports that are on offer.”
This year’s NWED Ambassadors included Frances McArdle of Height for Hire; Caitlin O’ Connor of Accelerating Performance; Deirdre Fee of Medical Mobility; Irene Queally of Pip and Pear; Oonagh Monahan of Alpha Omega Consultants; Sinead Gillard of Jinny’s Bakery in Leitrim and Margie Burns of Aviation Selection Consultants.
They’re joined by Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur – Ciara Clancy of Beats Medical; Lady Chanelle McCoy of Chanelle Medical; Fashion Designer Heidi Higgins, Dr. Xuemei Germaine of MicroGen; Fionnuala Ardee of Kilruddery Estate Enterprises, Mary-Ann O’ Brien of Lily O’ Brien’s Chocolates and Sammy Leslie of Castle Leslie Estate
Other entrepreneurs sharing their success stories at National Women’s Enterprise Day events included Caroline Keeling of Keelings, Erica Sheehan of Homespun Foods, Ramona Nicholas of Cara Pharmacy Group; Róisin Hogan of HIRO by Róisin; Sonya Lennon of Courtney Lennon; Niamh Sherwin Barry of Irish Fairy Door Company; Margaret O’Connor of Quigleys Bakery; Moira Dunne of BeProductive.ie; Gillian Doyle of Cerebreon Technologies and Deirdre McGlone of Harvey’s Point Hotel.
Information on the supports on offer through the Local Enterprise Offices is available through www.localenterprise.ie