€600,000 for Female-Led Businesses

Enterprise Ireland launches first online networking platform for female entrepreneurs

Enterprise Ireland is to invest €600,000 in 12 female-led businesses as part of their new Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs.

The new fund, gives female-led start-up companies funding of €50,000 and a clear path to commercial vitality with guidance in the early stages of each business.

Businesses were chosen based on their ability to become what Enterprise Ireland call a high growth potential start-up, which means they will have a greater chance to create employment and become commercially successful.

“We found we had very few female-led companies in Enterprise Ireland programmes,” said Jean O’Sullivan, Manager of the Female

Entrepreneurship Programme at Enterprise Ireland. “The most important thing, I think, is that these female-only funds are used to create awareness to the fact that grants are available.” Jean also said that she has noticed the number of female entrepreneurs participating in Enterprise Ireland programmes increase from 7% to 15%. “The difference is that women are coming forward in different types; they’re coming forward in sectors that have the opportunity to create employment and export.”

The Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs is just one of the mechanisms Enterprise Ireland have in place to bolster female-led start-up companies including the Feasibility Fund which provides €25,000 in funding, the Innovation Voucher which provides companies with €5,000 in seed funding, the New Frontiers Entrepreneurs Development Program which provides €15,000 and a Mentor Grant of up to €1,750. Recently, Enterprise Ireland also launched a new online networking platform for female entrepreneurs, which aims to facilitate greater communication between female-led businesses.

“It’s what we need right now for our business in terms of a cash injection,” said Sonya Lennon the co-founder of the fashion app Frock Advisor who are one of those 12 businesses receiving the fund. Sonya founded the company with Brendan Courtney her co-presenter on RTÉ’s Off the Rails fashion show. “It gives us a status which is just invaluable; to be able to go to a professional investor and say you’re endorsed by Enterprise Ireland. It means that you’ve been through a rigorous process and there’s validity to your proposition.”

Frock Advisor, based on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay in the Docklands, is an app for your iPhone or Smartphone device. It acts as both a fashion map and fashion advisor: locating local independent fashion stores, detailing the latest trends in fashion and connecting you with friends and your favorite brands.

“It’s basically drawing a line of communication between people who already know and trust each other and allowing their interactions to become their own best ad for themselves. The women that we are targeting are women who are bright and professional, these women want something different,” said Sonya.

“The Competitive Start Fund will enable us to expand our team in the coming months,” said Emer O’Daly of FabAllThings, an interactive design brand, which creates products using 3D printing techniques, also one of the 12 businesses benefitting from the Enterprise Ireland fund. “We will be expanding the design tools in our online platform so that customers can personalise all our products to themselves. This fund will enable us to carry out this work.”

The other companies receiving this funding include aPperbook, Cloud KPI’s, Coldlilies, DiaNia Technologies, It’s Beside You, Market Finder, Idoneus Medical Services, Medxnote and Vac Travel.

Pictured are the CEO of Enterprise Ireland Julie Sinnamon, Brendan Courtney and Sonya Lennon from Frock Advisor and the Minister of State for Small Business John Perry. Image courtesy Enterprise Ireland.

By Liam Cahill