News & Events

Ireland’s female entrepreneurs mean business as more women access enterprise supports

Inspiring events planned to mark National Women’s Enterprise Day on Wednesday, October 19th

The number of Irish women entrepreneurs receiving business supports from Local Enterprise Offices increased by 20 per cent last year, according to figures highlighted to mark the 10th annual National Women’s Enterprise Day. 

The trend clearly indicates that more Irish women than ever mean business and are taking the leap to grow their own businesses. Figures show that last year, Local Enterprise Offices in partnership with the Local Authorities provided financial and mentoring supports to more than 6,250 female-run businesses, while more than 11,000 female entrepreneurs participated in specialist training programmes. 

Seven events are taking place to mark the 10th annual National Women’s Enterprise Day on Wednesday, October 19th in Galway, Kerry, Kilkenny, Meath, Westmeath, Dublin and Cavan. All 31 Local Enterprise Offices are supporting the initiative, with established female entrepreneurs acting as Regional Ambassadors, sharing their inspiring success stories. 

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’ Connor TD, said “Women have a huge amount to contribute to business in Ireland, and they must be encouraged to start innovative enterprises that are focused on exports, growth and job creation. I want more ambitious women across every region to start their entrepreneurship journey and take that first step. Female entrepreneurs are needed to further enhance our economy by creating more quality jobs in Ireland. The changes to the taxation treatment of entrepreneurs, self-employed and SMEs announced in Budget 2017 will also be welcomed by women entrepreneurs. Specifically, the extra funding announced for the Local Enterprise Offices will see their capital funding grow by 22% to €22.5m. This is in recognition of their pivotal role in supporting start-ups and job creation at local level”.  

Sheelagh Daly of the Local Enterprise Offices highlighted the wide range of enterprise supports on offer and encouraged aspiring entrepreneurs and existing business owners to attend one of the seven National Women’s Enterprise Day Events around the country. 

“There has never been a better time to access enterprise supports. Through financial assistance, microfinance loans, mentoring, training and networking, the Local Enterprise Offices in partnership with the Local Authorities supported 1,000 more female-run enterprises last year, compared with 2014, which is a 20 per cent increase. We would love to see this figure increase even further this year,” she said.

The Regional Ambassadors for 2016 are: Hannah Wrixon of Last Minute Minders in Limerick (Mid West Region), Audrey Gaffney of Audrey Gaffney Associates in Meath (Mid East Region), Aisling Hanley of Keenwah Quinoa in Galway (West Region) ,Regina Bushell of Grovelands Childcare in Westmeath (Midlands Region), Rachel Doyle of the Arboretum (South East Region), Nicola Byrne of 11890 and Cloud 90 (Dublin Region), Valerie Kingston of Glenilen Farm in Cork (South West Region) and Margaret Reilly of CTR Manufacturing in Louth (Border Region).

Guest speakers at National Women’s Enterprise Day events around the country include the Fashion Designer - Heidi Higgins, Sonya Lennon of Lennon Courtney, Susan Spence of Softco and Susan Hayes Culleton of the Positive Economist. 

They will be joined by more than twenty other entrepreneurs, such as Alison Ritchie of Polar Ice, Rosie Mansfied of GoCambio, Designer Úna Burke and Breda Butler of Cuinneog. 

Tickets for National Women’s Enterprise Day events can be booked from the Local Enterprise Offices through and cost between €30 and €50 each. 


For all media queries around National Women’s Enterprise Day, please contact Engage Ireland Sarah Bohan or John Compton on Tel: 01 427 8388 / 087 65 39936 /

Notes to Editor:

* Facts and Figures: Number of participants of Local Enterprise Office training programmes, broken down by gender. Source: Centre of Excellence, Enterprise Ireland

Gender: FemaleYear 2014: 9,773 Year 2015: 11,088Increase: 1,315Number of enterprises receiving Local Enterprise Office supports, broken down by gender. Source: Centre of Excellence, Enterprise Ireland

Gender: FemaleYear 2014: 5,207Year 2015: 6,258Increase: 1,051 

Photography Note:

Reproduction-free images from the programme launch of National Women’s Enterprise Day are available from Leon Farrell at Photocall Ireland.

National Women’s Enterprise Day events, organised by the Local Enterprise Offices (

Seven events taking place on Wednesday, October 19th 2016 ( / #NWED)Theme: The Road To Success 

West Region (Galway, Mayo and Roscommon)

Get inspired and empowered over Afternoon Tea at the g Hotel

Regional Ambassador: Aisling Hanley of Keenwah Quinoa and Aisling’s Bakery

Destination: The g Hotel, Wellpark in Galway City

Time: 8.45am for registration, finishing at 4.30pm (full day event, with Afternoon Tea)

With: Úna Burke, Luxury Accessories Designer & Artist, Natasha Fennell of Stillwater Communications, Olwen Dawe of Business Intelligence, Carol Joyce and Anna Forde of Yourells, Karen Blissbakery of Yankee Doddle Paddy Blog, Breda Butler of Cuinneog, Deirdre Uí Chathmhaoil of Rí na Mara, Aisling Hanley of Keenwah Quinoa and Aisling’s Bakery, Fiona Faherty of Fushion Fashion, Jill Holtx of My Kids Time, Jenny Brennan of VOW Social and Maricka Burke Keogh of AltoCloud.

Cost per ticket (full day): €50, which includes Afternoon Tea at the g Hotel. 

South West Region (Kerry, Cork City, South Cork, Cork North and West)

Plan your route to export, master pitches and get roadmaps for your business

Regional Ambassador: Valerie Kingston, Glenilen Farm

Destination: The Brehon Hotel, Muckross Road, Killarney, Co. Kerry

Time: 9.30am for registration, finishing at 4pm (with networking lunch)

With: Barbara Moynihan of On Your Feet, Clodagh McCarthy of Bright Sparks Coaching, Antoinette Butler of Ireland Host Family, Julia Lynes of EazyCity, Rosie Mansfield of Go Cambio, Maura Hunter of MH Designs Ltd, Valerie Kingston of Glenilen Farm, Helen Hourihane of the Health & Safety Authority, Greg Canty of Fuzion Communications, Caroline McEnery of The HR Suite and Kieran O’ Connor of Bullseye Marketing (in association with Enterprise Europe Network). Master of Ceremonies: Liz Maher, President of Kerry Businesswomen’s Network.

Cost per ticket (full day): €30, which includes networking lunch at the Brehon Hotel. 

South East and Mid West Regions (Kilkenny, Carlow, Tipperary, Wexford, Waterford, Limerick & Clare)

East meets West with after dinner speaker Miriam O’Callaghan on Wednesday and a business power breakfast on Thursday

Regional Ambassador: Rachel Doyle, Arboretum (South East) and Hannah Wrixon, Last Minute Minders (Mid West)

Destination: Kilkenny River Court Hotel, The Bridge, John Street, Kilkenny City

Time on Wed, Oct 19th: 5pm for arrival and registration, finishing at 10pm (with dinner)

Time on Thur, Oct 20th: 8.30am, finishing at 11am (with breakfast refreshments)

With: Rachel Doyle of the Arboretum, Hannah Wrixon of Last Minute Minders and Siobhan Donohoe of Special Guest Speaker: Broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan.

Cost per ticket: €35, which includes dinner and breakfast refreshments at the Kilkenny River Court Hotel.

Mid East Region (Meath, Kildare and Wicklow)

Drive your company’s revenue, profits and cash-flow in the right direction using positive economics

Regional Ambassador: Audrey Gaffney, Audrey Gaffney Associates

Destination: Knightsbrook Hotel, Dublin Road, Trim, Co. Meath

Time: 11am for registration, finishing at 3.30pm (lunch included)

With: Susan Hayes Culleton of the Positive Economist, Alison Banton of Brooke & Shoals, Kathryn Byrne of Your Image Matters and Audrey Gaffney of Audrey Gaffney Associates.

Cost per ticket: €30, which includes lunch at Knightsbrook Hotel. 

Midlands Region (Westmeath, Longford, Laois and Offaly)

Hear five inspiring journeys and work out your own route to success over lunch at the Wineport Lodge Regional

Ambassador: Regina Bushell of Grovelands Childcare

Destination: The Wineport Lodge, Glasson, Athlone, Co. Westmeath

Time: 10.30am for registration, finishing at 2.30pm after networking lunch

With: Sonya Lennon of Lennon Courtney, Paula Fitzsimmons of Fitzsimmons Consulting, Alison Ritchie of Polar Ice, Fashion Designer Heidi Higgins, Orla Barry of Barry Express and Regina Bushell of Grovelands Childcare.

Cost per ticket: €30, which includes a networking lunch at the Wineport Lodge. 

Dublin Region (Fingal, Dublin City, South Dublin and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown)

Overcome obstacles, develop your roadmap and get ready for business take-off at Dublin Airport

Regional Ambassador: Nicola Byrne of Cloud90 and 11890

Destination: Radisson Blu Hotel, Dublin Airport

Time: 8.30am for registration, morning conference finishing at 1pm with light lunch

With: A dynamic team of speakers and panellists including, Nicola Byrne, Cloud90 and 11890; Joanne Hession, The Entrepreneurs Academy; Susan Spence, SoftCo; Susannagh Grogan, Susannagh Grogan Accessories; Sherry Brennan, Skip Trans Waste Management; Cora Barnes, 3Q Recruitment; Caroline Keeling, Keelings and hosted by RTÉs Keelin Shanley.

Cost per ticket: €30, which includes a light lunch at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Dublin Airport. 

Border Region (Cavan, Louth, Leitrim, Sligo, Monaghan and Donegal)

Be impressed with inspiring stories of strong female role models over lunch at Farnham Estate

Regional Ambassador: Margaret Reilly of CTR Manufacturing Ltd and Grand Designs Kitchen & Bedrooms

Destination: Radisson Farnham Estate Cavan, Co. Cavan

Time: 12.15pm for registration, finishing at 3pm (lunch included)

Special Guest: Minister for Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht, Ms. Heather Humphreys T.D.

With: Mairead Lavery, Editor of Irish Country Living magazine and Patricia Callan of the Small Firms Association. Plus, hear the journeys of successful entrepreneurs from the region.

Cost per ticket: €30, which includes lunch at Radisson Farnham Estate.