Women in West Cork are gearing up for further successes after completing an intensive programme aimed at women in business.
Between the 12 women who participated in the unique course, they plan to create a further 10 jobs in their businesses.
Margaret Riordan of Bumblebee Flower Farm said: “Before I attended the course I was a busy fool.
“I have learned so much, thanks to the fantastic trainers and can now class myself as a successful business woman with a bright future.
“The most important lesson has been to have self-belief and know my value in the business and my work.”
The programme was presented by the state-run Local Enterprise Office, based in Clonakilty, and was geared to power female entrepreneurship.
The four-month intensive programme focused on women, in business for a minimum of one year, and allowed participants to explore the possibilities of their businesses while finding the right work/life balance for themselves.
The Local Enterprise Office’s contracted agents for the programme delivery were Jackie Gowran and Sheila Anne O’Leary of Business IQ.
Participants were provided with the tools they need to grow and develop their commercial businesses including market research, sales, social media, funding options, financial planning, book-keeping, website awareness and business development.
The diversity of the businesses conducted by the participants ranged from agri-food, professional services, fashion, retail, health and wellbeing, and the arts.
Business woman Barbara Hegarty of Heavens Cakes said: “We have been in business for 20 years making artisan breads, French patisseries and custom made cakes but this programme has shown me that there is always room to learn.
“From this programme, I have gained knowledge and confidence and have developed a new network of like-minded women from my colleagues on the programme.”
Meanwhile, Janet Power from Kinsale Dental, who also participated, noted: “I have learned to apply rigorous thinking to business matters rather than reactive thinking as well as the necessity for a dedicated planned marketing strategy for the business.
“Being a business owner can be lonely but this programme has shown me the importance of delegation so I can be more productive at what only I can do in the business.”
She added: “This has not only changed the way I work but has also given my colleagues a fresh approach in their roles which ultimately leads to a happier workplace.”
Kevin Curran, acting CEO of the Local Enterprise Office, said: “Over the past two years, we have witnessed a noticeable rise in the number of female entrepreneurs seeking this type of training course.
“Some of the women have been in business, with 12-months plus experiences, while others are in business with up to 20 years but wanted a new direction or change in their business.
“There are almost 70,000 self-employed women in Ireland and, with these numbers growing, it is important to encourage women to not only survive but thrive in their business.
“As part of our continuing commitment to women in business, we will continue to provide this training programme in West Cork.”
The trainers involved in the course, Ms Gowran and Ms O’Leary said they had thoroughly enjoyed working with each of these enterprising women over the past four months.
“They all come from various backgrounds but had one common goal and that was to grow their commercial business in a way that works for them and their lifestyle.
“The calibre of the participants was extremely high and we certainly envision big things ahead for the graduates and look forward to working with them again in the future on other similar programmes,” Ms Gowran said.
Meanwhile, the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) is considering running its next Women in Business Programme in Kinsale, starting September/October.
The office said, subject to demand, it will suit female owners of small West Cork businesses, up and running from 12-24 months-plus.
Anyone wioth enquiries can contact the LEO at 023-8834700.
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