THE GOING FOR GROWTH SUITE OF INITIATIVES
Going for Growth is the brainchild of Paula Fitzsimons who put it forward in response to an initiative on women and entrepreneurship proposed by the NDP Gender Equality Unit in the then Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. ‘My mission in Going for Growth is to support women entrepreneurs to achieve their growth ambitions and to get more women entrepreneurs into a growth frame of mind’.
Since 2009 the merits and excellence of Going for Growth have been recognised repeatedly by the EU, OECD, and European Institute of Gender Equality. In 2015, Going for Growth was awarded the European Enterprise Promotion Award, Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills. In 2016, the initiative was included by the EU and OECD in a compendium of examples of innovative initiatives. The entrepreneurship tool for policy makers, released by the EU and OECD, includes Going for Growth as a case study.
Since its initial creation, Going for Growth has developed into a complementary suite of initiatives which focuses on supporting ambitious women entrepreneurs to achieve their growth aspirations throughout the various stages of their entrepreneurial journey. It also has developed into a virtuous circle whereby many of those who have benefited from the peer support willingly take the opportunity to give back. The one area that has not been covered up to this point is the earlier pre revenue stage.
A SUITE OF COMPLEMENTARY INITIATIVES
Going for Growth, which is about to begin its 15th cycle, is focused on established female entrepreneurs, who wish to be supported to grow and develop their businesses. Most of those selected for participation have many years revenues, at a minimum at least two. The initiative is based on peer support – entrepreneurs supporting entrepreneurs. The selected participants are grouped at round tables, which are facilitated by a Lead Entrepreneur, who gives their time on a voluntary basis. They meet once a month over a six month period to look at common issues, share experiences and explore ideas and strategies for growing their businesses.
The most important attributes of the Lead Entrepreneurs are that they have experience of growing a business and have personal experience of the growth journey on which the participants are embarking. They are not, and cannot be, experts in every area of business, but they have first-hand experience of facing the challenges of growing a business. Many are past participants of Going for Growth.
At the conclusion of the six month cycle, participants attest to heightened confidence, motivation, and ambition and the great majority report that they feel nearer to attaining their growth goals. Combining their feedback, the tangible results of increased revenue, employment, and the number of participants with export experience are reported by the participants at the end of each cycle.
On successful completion of a cycle, participants can stay connected by joining the Going for Growth Community. Members can apply to participate in Continuing the Momentum round tables, take part in topic based workshops, attend a Meet the Leads event, and are invited to attend the annual Community Forum. The Community of past participants has developed into a powerful network of female entrepreneurs all committed to supporting each other to overcome challenges, seize opportunities and continue their growth journey.
Continuing the Momentum was developed following a clear demand by many participants for continued participation on Lead facilitated round tables to continue their growth journey, through a focus on goals and milestones and the benefit of an advisory panel of peers.
Supported by Enterprise Ireland and KPMG, the activities of the Community are tailored to deliver focused developmental support to the individual member and her business, together with enhanced networking opportunities.
The Lead Entrepreneurs are the backbone of Going for Growth. One of the strengths of the Going for Growth programme is the high quality of the Lead Entrepreneurs, all of whom give their time on a voluntary basis to the programme.
They are not and cannot be experts in every area of business, but they have faced the challenges of starting and growing a business. Their facilitated group sessions are a central part of the initiative. Several of the Lead Entrepreneurs are previous participants.
Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs is a natural extension of the Going for Growth suite of initiatives. To include the ideation/ pre revenue stage in the entrepreneurial journey of female entrepreneurs further strengthens the virtuous circle – supporting female entrepreneurs at every stage of their growth journey, while creating structured and coordinated mechanisms for those further along the journey to reach back to those less advanced, in a spirit of altruism and peer support.
The proven approach of peer support, voluntary role models, goals and milestones and measured outcomes (qualitative and tangible) will be harnessed for a new group of potential women entrepreneurs – those with an innovative idea. Like the other initiatives, Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs draws on the voluntary contribution of time and enthusiasm of women entrepreneurs, and the contribution of expertise, time and other support from Enterprise Ireland, KPMG and other experts.
The positive effects of this initiative may be expected to be far reaching as the Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs is intended to open minds to entrepreneurial possibilities among those with good potential entrepreneurial capacity. The effect may be at another time or may give rise to another type of new enterprise.
We look forward to this new cohort of potential entrepreneurs stepping forward, who themselves in time may become Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs.