News & Events

‘Biggest-ever’ National Women’s Enterprise Day set for October, as figures show over 22,000 female entrepreneurs received support last year

  • 17 Local Enterprise Office events on October 17th will celebrate female-led businesses in Ireland

  • New figures: 22,000 female entrepreneurs took part in LEO training programmes in 2018

  • 4,500 female entrepreneurs benefited from business mentoring in 2018

  • ‘Making It Happen’ theme for 2019, to help more women start and grow their own business

The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, today launched the biggest-ever programme of events to mark National Women’s Enterprise Day (NWED) on Thursday, October 17th. Local Enterprise Offices are organising 17 entrepreneurial events across the country under the theme of ‘Making It Happen’, funded by the Government of Ireland in partnership with Enterprise Ireland and Local Authorities.

Figures released by Local Enterprise Offices to coincide with the launch reveal that 21,859 female participants took part in training programmes with their LEO in 2018, an increase of 18% on 2017 figures. There was also a big increase in the number of female entrepreneurs benefiting from business mentoring through their Local Enterprise Office last year - from 3,832 in 2017 up to 4,565 in 2018 (up by 19%).

Minister Humphreys was in Cavan to announce the 13th annual National Women’s Enterprise Day programme and to meet NWED Ambassadors who will be sharing their success stories at events in Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Kilkenny, Leitrim, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Sligo, Waterford, Wexford, and Wicklow.

This year’s enterprising NWED speakers include Sonia Deasy of the global skincare company, Pestle & Mortar; food entrepreneur and TV chef, Catherine Fulvio and fashion tech entrepreneur and broadcaster, Sonya Lennon.

Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation said: “I am delighted to announce the biggest ever programme of events for National Women’s Enterprise Day, which will take place at 17 events around the country on Thursday, October 17th. Ireland has some of the world’s finest women in business. We want to showcase their wonderful work to encourage more women to get into business. Supporting and fostering female entrepreneurship is a priority in Future Jobs Ireland, our whole-of-Government plan to prepare our businesses and workers for the future. Last year, the LEOs provided training to 22,000 female entrepreneurs but we want to see these numbers grow even more.”

Orla Martin, Chair of the National Women’s Enterprise Day Committee and Head of Enterprise with LEO Offaly, said: “Nearly 40% of new business owners in Ireland are women, showing that the gender gap is narrowing according to the latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report**. Through the Local Enterprise Offices, we saw a higher take-up of supports by female entrepreneurs last year – from those that were looking to start a new business venture by themselves to those that wanted to grow an existing family business. On National Women’s Enterprise Day on October 17th, we want to engage with as many women as possible and help them reach their enterprise potential.”

Minister Humphreys met ten NWED Ambassadors at today’s launch, which was hosted by LEO Cavan at Hotel Kilmore. These included Vicki O’ Toole of JJ O’ Toole in Limerick (Ambassador for LEO Cavan event); Liz Christie of Hand-woven in Ireland in Monaghan (Ambassador for LEO Monaghan event); Kate Gaynor of The Paint Hub in Carlow (Ambassador for LEO Carlow event); Jean McCabe of Willow in Clare (Ambassador for joint LEO Clare/Limerick/ Tipperary event); Dr. Wendy Oke of TeachKloud in Cork (Ambassador for joint LEO South Cork/ Cork City/ Cork North & West/ Kerry event) and Ann McGee of MIAS Pharma in Fingal (Ambassador for joint LEO Fingal/ LEO Dublin City/ LEO DLR/ South Dublin event).

The Minister also met with Georgia Visnyei of the Art of Coffee in Leitrim (Ambassador for LEO Leitrim event); Emma-Rose Conroy of EuroStallions Ltd in Offaly (Ambassador for joint LEO Offaly, Laois, Longford and Westmeath event), Lorraine Murphy of Lorraine Murphy Coaching and Training in Meath (Ambassador for LEO Meath and Louth event) and Mary B. Walsh of Ire Wel Pallets Limited in Wexford (Ambassador for LEO Wexford event).
Enterprise Ireland was represented by Gillian Slattery of its HPSU Division, Local Authorities were represented by Lynda McGavigan of Cavan County Council and Local Enterprise Office Cavan was represented by its Head of Enterprise, Marcella Rudden.

For more information on National Women’s Enterprise Day and to find out how to book tickets at events nationwide, go to or search #NWED on social media.


*Figures released by the Local Enterprise Offices (and compiled by Enterprise Ireland)

Number of female participants in LEO-run training programmes: 21,859
Number of female participants in LEO-run mentoring programmes: 4,565

Number of female participants in LEO-run training programmes: 18,536
Number of female participants in LEO-run mentoring programmes: 3,832
**Figures from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2018
Authors: Paula Fitzsimons (Fitzsimons Consulting) and Colm O’ Gorman (Dublin City University) / Sponsored by Enterprise Ireland and supported by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

GEM Monitor for Ireland 2018 – please refer to ‘Gender and Entrepreneurship’ chapter – page 35 of pdf.

High resolution, reproduction-free imagery will be available from Mark Stedman of Stedman Photography from 16.30 on 02/09/19

For further information, interviews or pictures, please contact:

Sarah Bohan at the Local Enterprise Office Communications Team in Enterprise Ireland
Mobile: 087 653 9936 Email:
Declan Lee at the Local Enterprise Office Communications Team in Enterprise Ireland
Mobile: 087 695 7451 Email: