Funding for Females: 9 Exclusive Investment & Networking Opportunities for Irish Women Entrepreneurs


Did you know in 2011 the number of start-ups in Ireland with an female on their founding team was only 7%.  Thankfully this has improved and has risen to 24%.

A Mastercard study from 2018 showed that although Ireland had the right conditions for females entrepreneurs to thrive in, motivation to start a business and self-belief remain low.


Why is this??  


The challenges facing female entrepreneurs are complex. They face going it alone, more often than not in a male dominated industry; juggling work and family life responsibilities; limited support and limited funding opportunities for their new business. There is a lot of evidence-based research available which clearly shows that companies with greater gender diversity in decision making and leadership positions will perform better and are more creative and innovative. Clearly there is an opportunity for forward thinking companies and entrepreneurs!


If you are a female with a business idea and you have been considering taking the plunge and setting up on your own, there are supports out there specifically geared at giving you the extra support you need to help you on your way:

  1. Acorns

This is an excellent programme for early-stage female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland. Past participants report increased sales, exports and employment creation.


  1. AwakenHub

A new community for women entrepreneurs which started in July 2020. Their mission is to level up opportunity, access and connectivity for women founder throughout Ireland by removing barriers to scale, investment and success.


  1. Action Plan for Women in Business

State agency Enterprise Ireland launched its Action Plan for Women in Business in January 2020, which included plans to increase the number of women in strategic management positions.


  1. Female High Fliers 

This is an accelerator programme for Ireland best early stage start-ups, addressing the challenges facing female entrepreneurs. The programme run by DCU Ryan Academy will fast track your business development and leadership skills.


  1. GoingforGrowth

This is free, female-only programme was started by Paula Fitzsimons as a support network for female entrepreneurs. It is funded by Enterprise Ireland and KPMG. It offers monthly meetings with experienced female lead entrepreneurs, who offer a round-table mentoring service to small groups of female business owners. You will also get access to a national forum that gives early-stage female entrepreneurs the chance to network with leading entrepreneurs and build on the work of the roundtable sessions.


  1. The Exxcel STEM programme 

This is aimed at female entrepreneurs enabling them to develop their idea and start a business. This flexible, part-time programme runs over six months. You will meet experts who will share their expertise and experience, primarily on a one-to-one basis. This female entrepreneurship programme is for women in the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) sectors and is based in The Rubicon Centre at the Cork Institute of Technology.


  1. Network Ireland

Network Ireland was established in 1983 to provide support to the professional and personal development of women. Their membership is made up of budding entrepreneurs, SME owners, professionals and leaders in indigenous and muti-national organisations across the country.


  1. Women in Business Network   

These are run by the Local Enterprise Offices (LEO) and provide structure support networks around the country. They run a number of events throughout the year for women in business, focusing on start-ups and smaller businesses in particular.


  1. Women Mean Business

This is a really good website dedicated to women in business in Ireland. It is a business platform for working women and it offers a dedicated space in which it highlight Irish and International businesswomen and female entrepreneurs.


What funding is available to Females?                                                                                                


One of the other main barriers to setting up on your own, is getting the necessary funding in place.  You may have to dive into your own savings, take out a loan or both !


However it is useful to know that there are a number of funds that you can apply to for additional finance:

  1. The Competitive Female Feasibility Fundis run by Enterprise Ireland, with the objective of helping female entrepreneurs investigate the viability of their business becoming a High Potential Startup (HPSU). The maximum grant available is €25,000.


  1. TheFemale Competitive Start Fund is also run by Enterprise Ireland and aims to accelerate the growth of female-led businesses that have the potential to make an impression in global markets. The maximum support available is €50,000 for a 10% ordinary equity stake in the startup. Businesses that are existing or potential clients of Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Startup department may apply. They must also be operating in the areas of manufacturing or internationally traded services, must be less than five years old and not have annual revenues of over €60,000. Full eligibility terms are listed on the website.


  1. Visa has launched its ‘She’s Next’ programme in Ireland, which aims to provide support for small businesses owned by females. Ireland is the first country in Europe to take part in the programme, which has awarded €1.25 million in supports to date to businesses right across the world. Visa is encouraging women entrepreneurs in Ireland, in all industries and sectors, to apply for one of five €5,000 grants. This years’ application date closed on 2nd November 2021 however there is always next year!


So what are your waiting for ?? Go for it and take advantage of all the supports available to help you on your way.

Sunrise Financial Planning provides investment management services and financial planning for individuals and businesses. Personalized financial plans are created by analyzing the client’s goals and objectives in order to develop a customized plan that will help them achieve their goals efficiently. Sunrise Financial Planning also offers trusted guidance on the best way to grow your money through investment strategies, insurance coverage, retirement plans, wills, trusts, tax-saving strategies, estate division strategies and more.

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