Invest NI to encourage female entrepreneurship

Invest Northern Ireland is organising a series of events as part of Enterprise Week, 12-16 November, that will promote the important contribution women can make in business.

The events will encourage a higher percentage of women to increase their participation in starting businesses or expanding existing companies. There will be keynote speakers, including television and radio personality Maggie Philbin, who will provide help, advice and inspiration to local women to take the next step.

Maggie Philbin, former presenter of BBC’s Tomorrow’s World programme, will be in Belfast to launch the Pathbreaking initiative at the Mothers of Invention – Women, Innovation and Business in Northern Ireland event. By promoting female role models and innovative thinking, the initiative aims to encourage women to start a business and increase their contribution to existing businesses by developing new ideas.

Additional events will also be held in Dungannon and Ballymena to promote entrepreneurship among women in rural areas. Beryl Otley and Sarah Rhodes of successful firm Get Ahead Hats will talk to local women about how they have built their business from a single premises in rural Yorkshire to a nationwide co-operative with over 20 outlets.

At the Belfast event, Ms Philbin will talk to budding and established local female entrepreneurs, giving advice on how to be innovative, identify opportunities for new products, and use science and technology to commercial advantage. A series of workshops will provide expert practical advice on a range of related issues, including the kinds of support available to help businesses put innovation into practice.

Attendees at Ballymena and Dungannon will also hear from locally based female role models who have established successful enterprises in rural Northern Ireland. The events will incorporate question and answer sessions as well as networking lunches.

Tracy Meharg, Invest NI’s Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development, said: “This is an excellent opportunity for budding and established local female entrepreneurs to hear from women who have built successful enterprises and who can offer advice, guidance and inspiration from a knowledgeable and experienced viewpoint.

“There is a wealth of untapped entrepreneurial talent among women in Northern Ireland and there is great potential for local women to boost their contribution to the local economy by increasing their participation in existing businesses and creating more start ups.”

The Pathbreaking initiative is an element of the Pathways to Female Entrepreneurship programme and is part funded by the Department for Employment and Learning under the European Union’s European Social Fund and Building Sustainable Prosperity programme.