independent

Thursday 18 September 2014

Female entrepreneurs sought to 'go for growth'

Published 09/01/2014 | 05:26

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Going For Growth lead entrepreneurs Mary McKenna of Tour America and Colette Twomey of Clonakilty Black Pudding.

Going for Growth, an Irish programme which helps ambitious women entrepreneurs grow their business, is calling out for business women in Cork to apply for its 2014 programme.

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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.

Here, '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 Cork have included: Colette Twomey from Clonakilty Black Pudding and Bernie Carroll from Student Programmes Ireland Ltd in Charleville, among others.

Colette Twomey, an ambassador for the initiative, said: "Going for Growth is an excellent initiative which gives real value to those who participate in it.

"I have seen definite progress among the participants in my group in clarifying and taking steps to achieve their growth goals."

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 business women, such as Mary McKenna, MD of Tour America; Lulu O'Sullivan, founder and CEO of Giftsdirect.com, and Fiona O'Carroll, director of Independent News & Media.

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 involves a time commitment of one half day a month for six months.

The OECD and EU have described Going for Growth as "inspiring" in a major new joint report to be published later this month.

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 also says: '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'.

"Irish women have a major role to play in delivering the economic benefits and job creation opportunities that successful entrepreneurship can bring," said Paula Fitzsimons, the national director and founder of Going for Growth. She pointed out that 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," she added.

"We're encouraging women entrepreneurs in Cork to apply for the 2014 programme and to become part of this success."

Female entrepreneurs in Cork interested in applying can access information and register their interest at www.goingforgrowth.com.

The closing date for the receipt of completed applications is January 24.

Corkman

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