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Thousands expected nationwide at National Women’s Enterprise Day events to ‘open doors to new markets’


‘Open doors to new markets’ is the theme for this year’s National Women’s Enterprise Day (NWED), which will be officially opened by the Minister of State for Higher Education, Ms. Mary Mitchell O’ Connor T.D. at the Dublin Regional Event in Leopardstown later this morning.

The Local Enterprise Offices have invited 60 successful female entrepreneurs, including Mary-Ann O’ Brien of Lily O’ Brien’s Chocolates, Caroline Keeling of Keelings and Sammy Leslie of Castle Leslie Estate, 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. Today’s events are expected to draw 1,200 entrepreneurs and demonstrate the LEOs’ commitment to encouraging more female-led businesses to grow and expand into new markets internationally.

Ahead of today’s event, An Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald, T.D. said:

“The events taking place around the country today are a true celebration of the potential and achievements of women in business. Today, 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”.

Preparations for Brexit will be to the fore at today’s NWED events and the Manager of Enterprise Ireland’s Brexit Unit, Anne Lanigan, is also speaking at the Dublin event. She 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.”

The very first National Women’s Enterprise Day took place in 2007 and the initiative is still as important as ever, according to Mary MacSweeney of the Local Enterprise Offices. She 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 are teaming up with sixty successful female entrepreneurs 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.”

This year’s other Ambassadors include 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; and Fionnuala Ardee of Kilruddery Estate Enterprises.

Other entrepreneurs sharing their success stories at National Women’s Enterprise Day events include 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 andDeirdre McGlone of Harvey’s Point Hotel.

Information about National Women’s Enterprise Day and the supports on offer through the Local Enterprise Offices is available through www.nwed.ie and www.localenterprise.ie