Written answers

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Enterprise Ireland

Photo of Jennifer Murnane O'ConnorJennifer Murnane O'Connor (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)
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115. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the action he is taking to encourage women as entrepreneurs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43796/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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My Department and its agencies are working continuously to address the under-representation of women across the enterprise sector. Increasing female participation in enterprise is a vital way to grow the diversity and strength of our indigenous business sector.

In order to optimise all available skills and talent throughout the country, Enterprise Ireland, which is under the remit of my Department, has placed a focus on increasing the number of women-led start-ups and the number of women in leadership positions in companies. To support this, in early 2020, Enterprise Ireland launched an Action Plan for Women in Business with the objective of:

- Increasing the number of women-led established companies growing internationally;

- Increasing the number of women in middle and senior management and leadership roles in Irish companies;

- Increasing the number of women becoming entrepreneurs; and

- Increasing the number of women-led start-ups with high growth potential.

The 2025 ambition for the delivery of the objectives is to achieve:

- 100 per cent increase the number of women-led companies growing internationally;

- 100 per cent increase in participation rate of women on Enterprise Ireland Management Development programmes;

- 50 per cent increase in women participants on start-up programmes;

- 50 per cent increase in Local Enterprise Office supports to women in business; and

- 30 per cent Increase the proportion of female founded High Potential Start-Ups.

The launch of this action plan by Enterprise Ireland builds on the success of Enterprise Ireland’s strategy for female entrepreneurships, which has resulted in an increase in the number of female High Potential Start-Up founders. Work is now commencing to implement the Action Plan for Women in Business.

Increasing the levels of participation by women in entrepreneurial activity acts an important driver of economic growth and as a means of strengthening social inclusion. Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Office network have also actively spotlighted and developed specific structures to encourage female entrepreneurship. This includes the introduction of a female only Competitive Start-Up Fund in Enterprise Ireland, and established female-specific tailored mentoring and training across the 31 Local Enterprise Offices nationwide.

Enterprise Ireland has also developed a series of female accelerator programmes in partnership with knowledge providers, such as Going for Growth and the NDRC Female Founders Programme.

Role modelling is essential to encouraging more women to establish a business. My Department has worked intensively to foster female entrepreneurship through identification and promotion of female role models with targeted events and awards, including Network Ireland’s 'Business Networking for Women Across Ireland', and the Planet Woman Academy.

In addition, and as committed to in the Programme for Government, I established an SME Growth Taskforce in September to deliver a National SME Growth Plan to set out a long-term strategic blueprint for SMEs and entrepreneurs in Ireland. The Taskforce, which was made up of over 20 members of the business community from across a range of sectors, has developed a comprehensive set of recommendations. Among these are proposals on how to increase the number of new entrepreneurs starting businesses, including women and other under-represented groups.


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