Ambitious female entrepreneurs determined to grow their businesses sought for new cycle of development programme

29th October 2019

Going for Growth
L-R: Olivia Lynch KPMG; Vanessa Creaven Spotlight Oral Care; Julie Sinnamon Enterprise Ireland

  • Call for applicants for the 12th cycle of award-winning Going for Growth programme
  • Oonagh O’Hagan and Chupi Sweetman-Durney among Lead Entrepreneurs
  • Research shows gap between ambition of female and male entrepreneurs is closing

The call is open today (Tuesday, October 29) 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 in notes below)

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 at

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 out for more details.

Notes to Editors:

  • About Going for Growth
    Going for Growth is an initiative to support female entrepreneurs, regardless of sector, who have been trading for at least two years and are seriously committed to growing their businesses. Designed and developed by Paula Fitzsimons, Fitzsimons Consulting, eleven Going for Growth cycles have already taken place since the pilot in 2008, with over 660 female entrepreneurs from across the country taking part in the initiative to date. For more information please visit
  • Eligibility criteria
    Applications will be considered from female entrepreneurs across all sectors who are located in the Republic of Ireland. Businesses of all sizes will be considered if a strong growth ambition can be demonstrated. The applicant should already be the owner-manager of a business of which she is a major shareholder and key influencer and should be working full time on the business. It is expected that the business will have been trading for at least two years. In exceptional cases, a business at an earlier stage can be considered.
  • Lead Entrepreneurs
    Successful businesswomen who have committed to become voluntary Lead Entrepreneurs for the next cycle of Going for Growth. You can read more about the voluntary Lead Entrepreneurs here -
  • Previous participants
    Some of the past participants include: Andrea Linehan, GRID Finance, Leonora O’Brien Pharmapod, Gillian O’Dowd, Azon Recruitment Group, Eimer Hannon, Hannon Travel, Mary O’Brien, videoDoc, Jennifer Rock, The Skin Nerd, Hannah Wrixon, Get the Shifts, Claire McHugh, Axonista and Sara Mitchell, Poulet Bonne Femme.
  • Profile for Vanessa Creaven is available on this link
  • International Recognition for Going for Growth
    Since 2009 the merits and excellence of Going for Growth have been recognised repeatedly by the EU, OECD and European Institute of Gender Equality. In 2015, Going for Growth was awarded the European Enterprise Promotion Award, Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills. In 2016, the initiative was included by the EU and OECD in a compendium of examples of innovative initiatives The entrepreneurship tool for policy makers, released by the EU and OECD includes Going for Growth as a case study
  • * The statistics mentioned are drawn from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Report for Ireland. Here is a link to the latest research from GEM. -

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact

Paula Fitzsimons


+353 87 2774385

Martha Kearns


+353 87 2720212