Offaly’s Dr Anne Cusack, formerly of Critical Healthcare, to the foreground with (l-r) Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy, Jeananne O’Brien, Artizan Food Co.and Olivia Lynch, Partner KPMG.

Female entrepreneurs from Offaly sought for award-winning project

The call is out for ambitious female entrepreneurs from Offaly, who are looking to take their business to the next level, to apply for the latest cycle of 'Going for Growth', the award-winning business development initiative.

'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. There is no charge to those selected to participate.

This is the 14th year of Going for Growth and more than 800 female entrepreneurs have so far taken part in the programme. Deadline for applications is December 16th.

A total of 91% of participants on the 13th 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 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%).

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

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

Past participants from Offaly include Anne Cusack, formerly of Critical Healthcare, who is now a Lead Entrepreneur.

“Going for Growth has introduced me to so many entrepreneurs I would never have met in my normal working life and the sharing of information is brilliant. Going for Growth has enabled friendships and supports we would not otherwise find in our existing business networks.

"Having benefitted from being a participant in Going for Growth, I am now delighted to give back by being a Lead Entrepreneur and sharing my experience and insights with others on a voluntary basis,” Anne says.

The programme is seeking applications from female entrepreneurs – across all sectors – who are strongly focussed on growth. Ideally, businesses should be well established. Applications will also be considered from highly innovative entrepreneurs at an earlier stage of their development if they have already generated some sales and are focused on growth in export markets.

Up to sixty 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.

Anyone interested is encouraged to register on the website and a link to the application form will be sent to them.

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.

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".