An article by ex-Apprentice contestant Joanna Murphy of ConnectIreland
60 female entrepreneurs planning to grow turnover to €156m in five years
Pictured: Paula Fitzsimons
Over 60 innovative business women at the Going for Growth National Forum today have revealed plans to increase their collective turnover by 25pc to €156m over the next five years.
The Going for Growth female mentoring programme pairs successful and established female entrepreneurs with business women who are at an earlier stage of company development. The established business people, or lead entrepreneurs, act as role models to the early stage entrepreneurs and share their knowledge and experience with them on a voluntary basis.
Those attending the national forum today are participating in the fifth cycle of the Going for Growth initiative and currently have a combined turnover of almost €38m and directly employ over 570 people. In five years time, their combined turnover is expected to reach €156m, with direct employees increasing to 1,300.
Currently, 29pc of participants are involved in exports, while 62pc expect to be exporting in five years’ time.
A key issue up for discussion at today’s forum is sales and marketing and the challenges associated with growing a customer base on home and export markets at a time when the ongoing economic crisis and constrained budgets continue to impact negatively on the demand for goods and services by consumers, businesses and the public sector.
A number of past participants, including Ann McGee, McGee Pharma International, a recent winner of the Small Firms Association Award for Services, will also share their stories and describe how they positioned their businesses for growth.
“This is a very ambitious group who are determined to drive their businesses forward,” said Paula Fitzsimons, the national director and founder of Going for Growth. “By becoming entrepreneurs they have taken the first step. I am confident that with the support of Going for Growth, this group of ambitious women entrepreneurs can achieve their growth aspirations and make a real contribution to jobs creation and value added in their local economies.”
The participants are being joined by 10 lead entrepreneurs at the forum, including Colette Twomey, CEO, Clonakilty Black Pudding; Elaine Coughlan, partner, Atlantic Bridge Technology Fund; Nikki Evans, managing director, Perfect Card Ltd; and Susan Spence, executive chairman and co-founder, SoftCo.
Since 2007, five cycles of the Going for Growth programme have been completed and over 250 women, from all over the country who are involved in a diverse range of businesses, have taken part. Most of the 60 participants in the fourth cycle increased their turnover by an average of 25pc and seven became exporters for the first time. An additional 50 jobs were also created by participants. All of this was achieved in 2012.
The ‘Going for Growth’ female mentoring initiative is 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, by Enterprise Ireland and by Bank of Ireland.