One of the largest-ever programme of events for National Women’s Enterprise Day (NWED ) took place recently as the event returned to its normal in-person programme for 2022.
An annual initiative of the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs ), including Westmeath and the Midlands counties, the theme for this year’s event was “Our Future, Our Way” with the aim of inspiring more women as they start and grow their businesses.
The theme was reflected in the 16 physical events that took place across the country, supported by Enterprise Ireland and the Local Authorities. These events featured a mix of well-known Irish entrepreneurs and business people such as Suzanne Jackson, founder of the SoSu Cosmetics brand, successful jockey Nina Carberry, international referee Michelle O’Neill, award winning jewellery designer Chupi Sweetman, Interior design specialist and Home of the Year judge Suzie McAdam and broadcaster and entrepreneur Aine Kerr.
The networking event for entrepreneurs in counties Westmeath, Laois, Longford and Offaly took place in Glasson Lakehouse Hotel and was organised in partnership with Local Enterprise Offices with LEO Westmeath being the lead county.
Over 170 local entrepreneurs and businesswomen participated and speakers included Our Leading Light - Patricia Gibney – Crime Fiction Author, Suzanne Jackson - founder of SoSu Cosmetics – Entrepreneur/Influencer/TV Presenter, Rachel Duffy - International Rose of Tralee 2022, Christine Charlton – Head of Enterprise, LEO Westmeath and our MC Sarah Jane Foster owner of SJF Productions, RTÉ Correspondent.
Other special guests on the day were Claire Guinan – jeweller and Artist, Áine Farrell owner of Áines Boutique Longford, Áine and Ann O’Reilly of Zobi a fashion design consultancy based in Mullingar, Co Westmeath.
“National Women’s Enterprise Day is a key event for Local Enterprise Offices around the country. Now in its 15th year it was fantastic to be back with a live event to celebrate female business success stories and provide learning opportunities and support to those who may have an idea but have not taken the first step. The event was pitched to be informative, inspiring and motivating and I would encourage anyone who is in the early stages of their business or established and growing to get in contact with the team at their Local Enterprise Office to see how we can assist in guiding you on your journey,” Catriona Duffy, Business Advisor with LEO Westmeath, said.
“Our National Women’s Enterprise Day event was a hugely important platform for aspiring female entrepreneurs. By learning from experienced businesswomen, they now hopefully feel encouraged to develop their own business ideas to start their ‘road to success,” Christine Charlton with Local Enterprise Office Westmeath, added.
The growing popularity of NWED is aligned with a continued growth in female entrepreneurship. Research as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM ) for 2021 showed that 49% of women surveyed believed they had the necessary skills and knowledge to start a business. This was up from 39% in 2018. The report also highlighted that Ireland has the third highest rate for early-stage women entrepreneurs across European countries, with over 1,400 women starting a new business in Ireland every month.
Early-stage women entrepreneurs in Ireland are mainly focused on the customer services sector with 64% of those surveyed working in that area. The report showed a significant growth in export customers for these businesses, with 26% of customers of these early-stage startups based abroad, up from 15% in 2019 highlighting how they have diversified their markets during Covid.