Female entrepreneurs on development programme grew revenue and job numbers and started exporting during Covid-19

8th November 2021

Going for Growth launch
Olivia Lynch, Partner KPMG; Lead Entrepreneur Jeananne O’Brien, Artizan Food Co.; Leo Clancy, CEO Enterprise Ireland and Lead Entrepreneur Dr. Anne Cusack, formerly Critical Healthcare
  • HR issues and funding identified as main barriers to growth
  • Ambitious female entrepreneurs sought for 14th cycle of award-winning Going for Growth programme

Participants on an award-winning development programme for ambitious female entrepreneurs reported strong growth over the last year despite the challenges posed by Covid-19.

Those taking part in the 13th cycle of Going for Growth showed total revenues growing over the cycle, additional employment being created and the number of exporters increasing while trading through the pandemic.

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 call is now open (from today Monday 8th November) for applications for the 14th cycle of the programme which is seeking applications from female entrepreneurs – across all sectors – who are strongly focused on growth.

Up to 60 places will be available for the 14th cycle of Going for Growth, which will run from January to June 2022 and the deadline for applications is Thursday, December 16, 2021. There is no charge for those selected.

Figures released today show that the 56 participants who took part in the 13th Going for Growth programme grew net employment during the six months of the programme by 163 – an additional 93 full-time and 70 part-time jobs.

They had a combined turnover of almost €162 million at the start of the cycle, which had grown to €176.25 million at its conclusion – representing an increase of €14.25 million (8.8%).

A total of 91% of participants on the Going for Growth programme reported that they pivoted their businesses to adapt to prevailing circumstances, and an overwhelming 98% said that their participation in the programme brought about practical change within their business.

The figures, which were gathered in their end of cycle survey, show the resilience and determination of the entrepreneurs on the programme – and the value of the peer support they received while participating.

The survey also found that seven participants from the programme started exporting for the first time – which is a considerable feat during a global pandemic.

Going for Growth participants found that the roundtable sessions they participated in translated into practical changes in their business. All participants said they would recommend the programme to others.

Today’s call marks the start of the 14th year of Going for Growth and more than 800 female entrepreneurs have so far taken part in the programme. Anyone interested is encouraged to register on the website goingforgrowth.com and a link to the application form will be sent to them.

Ideally, businesses applying should be well established. In exceptional cases, businesses at an earlier stage will be considered if they are generating sales, and it is felt that the business is highly innovative, plans to have export customers and the entrepreneur has significant growth ambitions. If accepted, these participants are included in the ‘Starting Strong’ element of the programme. (Eligibility criteria in notes below)

Those selected for the Going for Growth initiative 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 five previous Going for Growth participants: Dr. Anne Cusack, formerly Critical Healthcare; Chupi Sweetman-Durney, Chupi; Gillian O’Dowd, Azon Recruitment Group, Jeananne O’Brien, Artizan Food Co. and Oonagh O’Hagan, Meaghers Pharmacy Group.

The other Lead Entrepreneurs include Fidelma McGuirk, Payslip and Monica Flood, formerly Olas IT.

Áine Denn, co-founder and formerly of Altify, and Breege O’Donoghue, formally of Primark, will lead Continuing the Momentum round tables. This is a further development programme for former participants of Going for Growth.

Leo Clancy, CEO Enterprise Ireland, says:

“Increasing support for ambitious female entrepreneurship is a key national priority and Enterprise Ireland is proud to support Going for Growth. Strong peer groups, wonderful Lead Entrepreneurs, excellent formal learning opportunities and frameworks for business growth make this a ‘must consider’ for anyone seeking to accelerate her business.”

Olivia Lynch, Partner KPMG, says:

“The results of this year’s programme speak to the remarkable resilience of these women in the most challenging of market circumstances. Women in Ireland continue to be underrepresented amongst our entrepreneurship community, but with the right support, have the potential to contribute significantly more to our economy. The many programme participants who have adapted their businesses to become first time exporters and create new jobs are proof of this potential. We look forward to continuing our strong support of the Going for Growth programme and sharing our expertise with the next group of ambitious women looking to take their businesses to the next level.”

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, says:

“The achievements of the participants in growing revenue, increasing jobs and beginning exporting during some of the darkest days of the pandemic are a credit to the peer support that they got from each other and from the Lead Entrepreneurs. The way the participants have pivoted, identified new opportunities, and changed to meet the needs of their market, shows great resilience and a true entrepreneurial spirit. The strength of the network, developed over the last 13 years, has proven to be a great resource in the most challenging times, as it is when the environment is more benign.”

Log onto www.goingforgrowth.com for more details.

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact Paula Fitzsimons on +353 87 2774385 or Martha Kearns at StoryLab on +353 87 2720212

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, thirteen Going for Growth cycles have already taken place since the pilot in 2008, with over 800 female entrepreneurs from across the country taking part in the initiative to date. For more information, please visit www.goingforgrowth.com.
  • 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.
  • Starting Strong
    In exceptional cases, businesses at an earlier stage will be considered if it is felt that the business is highly innovative, plans to have export customers and the entrepreneur has significant growth ambitions. If accepted, these participants are included in the ‘Starting Strong’ element of the programme.
  • Lead Entrepreneurs 
    You can read more about the successful businesswomen, who have committed to become voluntary Lead Entrepreneurs for the next cycle of Going for Growth here.
  • Previous participants 
    Some of the past participants include: Dr Vanessa Creaven, Spotlight Oral Care; Leonora O’Brien Pharmapod; Mary B Walsh, Ire Wel Pallets; Aine Kerr, Kinzen; Aimee Connolly, Sculpt by Aimee; Avril McCarthy, Derrycourt Cleaning Specialists; Jennifer Corley, EquiTrace; Jeananne O’Brien, Artizan Food Company and Sonia Neary, Wellola.
  • International Recognition forGoing 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. Click here.
    The entrepreneurship tool for policy makers, released by the EU and OECD includes Going for Growth as a case study. Click here.

ENDS

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact

Paula Fitzsimons

Storylab

+353 87 2774385

Martha Kearns

Storylab

+353 87 2720212