Published: Thu, 23 April 2015
Seán Kelly MEP hosts Brussels conference aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship amongst women
Seán Kelly MEP (Ireland South) has called for increased support for the 15,000 Irish women entrepreneurs starting new businesses every year. “There are now about 15,000 women starting new business in Ireland every year and the latest statistics suggest 10 percent of women in Ireland aspire to start a new business in the future – a significant increase of aspiring businesswomen on the previous year of just 4 percent. These are not simply aspirations, as the number of women entrepreneurs increased by 50 percent in the 12 months between from 2012 and 2013,” Mr Kelly said in hosting the Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) conference in Brussels this week.
Addressing the conference, MEP Kelly highlighted the very positive example of Ireland’s performance on the international stage and the large proportion of both men and women entrepreneurs driving Ireland’s economic recovery: “Ireland also has a growing number of women networks and initiatives which positively support women entrepreneurs, including Kerry Business Women, Network Limerick, Going for Growth, Cork Innovates, Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs). We also see a great number of campaigns in Ireland, led by Enterprise Ireland and the City and County Boards promoting and encouraging female entrepreneurship.
“Education and access to finance are crucial to enable young and mature women entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and that’s where I would like to see greater supports offered to help them pursue their business ideas,” Mr Kelly told the MEPs, European Commission officials, business leaders and international stakeholders in attendance.
A large majority of early stage entrepreneurs in Ireland are educated beyond secondary school level, 70 percent of men and 76 percent of women. As our proportion of highly educated women increases, it is likely that the rate of early stage entrepreneurial activity among women will also increase. Access to finance needs to be improved, however, according to the Fine Gael MEP and the Irish government is currently introducing a wide range of changes to the rules governing microfinance, which Mr Kelly considers a positive step in the right direction.
“These numbers reflect very positively on our growth in Ireland, both in terms of our economy and enthusiasm for establishing businesses and pursing new and innovative ways in which to develop. It is the enthusiasm of such entrepreneurs that will lead us towards greater prosperity. We need to help potential future business leaders overcome the fear of failure and support them through this and other platforms focused on the development of women entrepreneurs,” he continued.
The Brussels conference focused on the five pillars on which the Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) is based: women entrepreneurship networks; awareness raising; government initiatives; education; and access to finance.
“Entrepreneurs are the driving force of any nation, creating employment and growth and helping boost competitiveness, whereas innovation generates fresh solutions to problems and can give an enterprise its competitive edge. Entrepreneurship and innovation are intrinsically linked – entrepreneurs need access to innovative ideas and innovators need entrepreneurs to develop their potential,” Mr Kelly added.
Pictured: Seán Kelly MEP addresses the Women Entrepreneurship Platform conference in Brussels, and meeting WEP organisers Maurits Bruggink and Deimante Valciukaite at the European Parliament