Six of Northern Ireland’s leading female entrepreneurs have been invited to take part in a pilot programme, created by Invest Northern Ireland, to enhance their leadership skills and make valuable business contacts in Boston, USA.
During the visit, 13-16 September, the businesswomen will attend a women’s leadership conference at Babson College, internationally recognised for its expertise in entrepreneurial training and development, and various pre-organised business and networking meetings set up by Invest NI’s appointed US trade advisor.
With women only two-fifths as likely to become entrepreneurs as men in Northern Ireland the programme forms an important part of Invest NI’s Investing in Women Initiative.
Set up in 2002 the initiative aims to increase the number of women getting involved in entrepreneurial activity and encourage those already running a business to develop it further.
Commenting on the objectives of the leadership and business development programme Claire Herron, who manages the Investing in Women Initiative, at Invest NI said:
“This programme has been designed to provide an opportunity for participants to learn from best practice in the US and also investigate possible business development linkages.
“It has been tailored to suit the unique needs of each individual participant to ensure that they gain maximum benefit and are able to forward their own business agenda’s,” she continued.
Around 30% of all American businesses are majority female owned and the US leads the way in terms of female entrepreneurship. This compares to just 3.4% of women in Northern Ireland who are expected to start a business in the next three years.
All of the businesswomen taking part in the programme have set up their own company or work for firms operating within the technology sector.
The visit has been organised in conjunction with the NI Technology and Development Centre supported by Invest NI. It is hoped that the women participating in the trip will be able to use the centre to explore growth opportunities for their businesses in the US.
Representatives from Queen’s University, Belfast and the University of Ulster’s NI Centre for Entrepreneurship will also be in attendance to learn at first hand some of the entrepreneurial teaching methods practiced in Babson College.