Going for Growth seeks women with ambition

As Going for Growth seeks new applicants for its 16th year, turnover among last year’s participants grew 15% to €92.3m.

Award-winning business development scheme for women entrepreneurs Going for Growth will begin accepting applications for the 16th year of the programme.

The programme, which is supported by Enterprise Ireland and KPMG, helps ambitious female entrepreneurs to achieve their growth ambitions – helping to build stronger companies, create new jobs and increase revenues.

“The objective of Going for Growth is to encourage female entrepreneurs to become more ambitious; to support them to achieve their growth aspirations; and to realise the full potential of their businesses”

The 15th cycle of Going for Growth reported significant results for its 69 participants. Combined turnover increased from €80.6m at the start of the cycle to almost €92.3m by the end, almost a 15% increase in just six months.

Their combined workforce increased by 118 people over the cycle, while nine participants began exporting their products and services for the first time.

How to enter Going for Growth

The deadline for applications for the 16th cycle of Going for Growth is Friday 17 November 2023.

Up to 60 places will be available and applications are sought from female entrepreneurs across all sectors who are strongly focused on growth. There is no charge for those selected and the six-month initiative will begin in January 2024. To learn more, click here

“The objective of Going for Growth is to encourage female entrepreneurs to become more ambitious; to support them to achieve their growth aspirations; and to realise the full potential of their businesses, on Irish and export markets, throughout the lifetime of their business,” said Paula Fitzsimons, national director for Going for Growth.

“I am delighted that the feedback from the participants is so positive, demonstrating that they are creating additional added value in the Irish economy, growing sales, and employment.” 

Fostering ambition

Going for Growth has seen more than 900 businesswomen take part since its first cycle in 2008.

Some of the past participants include Aimee Connolly of Sculpted by Aimee; Andrea Doolan of Atlantia Clinical Trials; Derval O’Rourke of Derval.ie; Kate Scott of HoloToyz; Louella Morton of TestReach; and Vanessa Creaven of Spotlight Oral Care. (Details of these and others are in the end notes)

Going for Growth has been repeatedly recognised by the EU, OECD, and European Institute of Gender Equality as a key initiative in helping to foster greater ambition among female entrepreneurs and to support their growth aspirations.

“Increasing support for ambitious female entrepreneurship is a key national priority and Enterprise Ireland is proud to support Going for Growth,” said Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy.

“I believe our close partnership with Going for Growth provides excellent support to our incredible women entrepreneurs in scaling their businesses and achieving global ambition.  Strong peer groups, wonderful Lead Entrepreneurs, excellent formal learning opportunities and frameworks for business growth make this a ‘must consider’ for anyone seeking to accelerate her business.”

The programme brings together female entrepreneurs for monthly peer-to-peer roundtable discussions facilitated by successful businesswomen. They are known as Lead Entrepreneurs.  Their participation is completely voluntary and is done in a spirit of altruism and the wish to share their experience and insights with others at an earlier stage of their growth journey.

Seven of this year’s Lead Entrepreneurs are former Going for Growth participants.

This year’s voluntary Lead Entrepreneurs include Anne Cusack, formerly Critical Healthcare; Chupi Sweetman-Durney, Chupi; Jeananne O’Brien, Artizan Food Co.; Leonora O’Brien, formerly Pharmapod; Louise Phelan, Phelan Energy Group; Marissa Carter, Carter Beauty; Monica Flood, formerly Olas IT; Oonagh O’Hagan, Meaghers Pharmacy Group and Tara Beattie, Prepsheets.com.

“Our recent Enterprise Barometer research showed resilience and measured confidence in the future amongst Irish businesses and entrepreneurs,” said Olivia Lyncgh, partner at KPMG.

“At KPMG, we champion domestic entrepreneurship, and our commitment to diversity drives us to continue our partnership with Going for Growth. This exceptional programme empowers ambitious women to elevate their businesses. With the guidance of the Lead Entrepreneurs, this initiative offers a transformative journey, connecting participants with valuable insights and a supportive community. KPMG’s experts look forward to facilitating various workshops and sharing their extensive knowledge in tax, funding, employment and more.”

Feedback from the previous cycle was also extremely positive, with 96% of participants saying their involvement brought about practical change within their business and 97% saying they felt nearer to achieving their ambitions. All participants said they would recommend Going for Growth to others.

The support provided does not end on completion of the six-month cycle, with most past participants becoming part of the Going for Growth community. Going for Growth alumni can apply for the Continuing the Momentum programme, which offers Lead Entrepreneur-facilitated roundtables to those looking to continue their growth journey, with the aid of peer support, focused goals, and milestones.

A participant on the 15th cycle of Going for Growth, Gráinne Mullins, Founder of Grá Chocolates, speaking of her experience said: “Going for Growth was such an incredible experience for me. I connected with women in a similar position to me and we could be open and vulnerable to each other about the struggles of having our own businesses. I learned so much over the few months. Having peers, who understood and could advise you, really helped to keep me on track. I am so thankful for being selected for the Going for Growth Programme.”

Main image at top: Olivia Lynch Partner, KPMG; Leo Clancy, CEO of Enterprise Ireland; past participant Gráinne Mullins founder of Grá Chocolates; and Lead Entrepreneur Oonagh O’Hagan

John Kennedy
Award-winning ThinkBusiness.ie editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.