Opportunities for Ambitious Female Entrepreneurs

4th November 2019

The call is open for ambitious female entrepreneurs who are looking to scale their businesses to join the latest cycle of Going for Growth, the award-winning business development programme.

Going for Growth is a six-month part-time programme, supported by Enterprise Ireland and KPMG, which assists ambitious female entrepreneurs to achieve their growth aspirations.

The programme, which is now in its 12th year, is seeking applications from female entrepreneurs – across all sectors – who are strongly focussed on growth. Ideally, businesses should be well established and trading for at least two years. (Eligibility criteria will apply)

Sixty places will be available for this 12th cycle of Going for Growth, which will run from January to June 2020 and the deadline for applications is Monday, December 9th.  There is no charge for those selected. Anyone interested is encouraged to register their interest in receiving an application form here.

One past participant who participated in the last cycle of Going for Growth is Dr. Vanessa Creaven, from Spotlight Oral Care. Established with her sister and fellow dentist Dr. Lisa Creaven, the company produces safe and effective oral care products, with clinically proven active ingredients.

The company, which launched in 2016, has products for sale in Boots, Tesco, Dunnes Stores as well as in pharmacies across the country. They also export to 15 countries and have recently signed a deal with Target and Ulta Beauty in the US.

“When I began on the Going for Growth cycle, I expected I would gain a lot of expertise, but I had no idea as to the extent of that expertise, or the friendships I would make along the way,” said Vanessa Creaven. 

Most owner/managers agree that growing a business can be a very isolating experience and it can be difficult to find someone on your wavelength who understands the issues involved. The Going for Growth initiative is designed to address these challenges and those selected will join interactive round table sessions led by Lead Entrepreneurs.

The Lead Entrepreneurs are successful business women with personal experience of growing a business. These high-profile business leaders volunteer their time to encourage participants to set and achieve personalised goals and milestones to address the opportunities and challenges they face in driving growth in their businesses.

Some of this year’s Lead Entrepreneurs include four previous Going for Growth participants: Dr. Anne Cusack, Critical Healthcare; Chupi Sweetman-Durney, Chupi; Claire McHugh, Axonista and Oonagh O’Hagan, owner of Meagher’s Pharmacy Group.

The other Lead Entrepreneurs are: Fidelma McGuirk, Payslip; Fiona O’Carroll, non-Executive Director; Monica Flood, formerly Olas IT and Susan Spence, SoftCo.

Previous participants report significant progress. At the conclusion of the most recent cycle (11th), 64 participants reported:

  • combined turnover of €45.9 million – an increase in reported sales of €8m over the cycle;
  • the creation of an additional 81 new jobs over the cycle, bringing to over 593 the total number employed;
  • three first time exporters, increasing to 35 the number of participants with export experience.

Julie Sinnamon, CEO Enterprise Ireland, said: “Supporting ambitious business women to start and to grow enterprises is a priority for Enterprise Ireland. In addition to targeting a continued increase in the number of high potential start-ups led by female founders, a key focus for Enterprise Ireland is to increase the number of companies that achieve scale.

“The Going for Growth programme provides unique supports to ambitious business women in the achievement of their growth aspirations through learning, collaboration and most importantly, through role models and mentoring. We will continue to partner with Going for Growth, to grow the cohort of businesses of scale led by women, expanding their reach in global markets and creating and sustaining jobs in Ireland.”

Olivia Lynch, Partner KPMG, said: “Entrepreneurs are critical to the future success of the Irish economy. As advisors to a wide range of family and privately-owned businesses, we applaud the proven record of Going for Growth in helping women in business realise their full potential.

“At KPMG we work with many businesses in overcoming challenges and creating opportunities and we’re delighted to continue our support for this exceptional programme. In doing so, we recognise the key role of Enterprise Ireland, all of the Lead Entrepreneurs and the contribution of so many hugely committed individuals. I have no doubt that the 12th cycle will prove highly valuable to all of the participants.”

Going for Growth has been designed and is being implemented by Fitzsimons Consulting, specialists in areas related to entrepreneurship and growth.

Paula Fitzsimons, founder and managing director of Fitzsimons Consulting, said: “Going for Growth set out to address the significant gap in entrepreneurial ambition among women compared to men that was identified by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) research in 2007, which showed that for every female entrepreneur with growth expectations, there were nearly five times as many male entrepreneurs. This gap has significantly narrowed (to 3.5:1) as the rate of female entrepreneurs with growth ambitions has increased. Research* shows that 25% of early stage female entrepreneurs expect to increase jobs by 50% and to create ten or more jobs within five years.”

This is the 12th year of Going for Growth and more than 660 female entrepreneurs have so far taken part in the programme. Check here for more details.

Pictured (l-R): Olivia Lynch, KPMG (sponsor); Vanessa Creaven, Spotlight Oral Care (past participant), and Julie Sinnamon, Enterprise Ireland (sponsor).