Going for Growth, the award-winning programme for ambitious business women has now completed its 12th cycle.
Going for Growth, supported by both KPMG and Enterprise Ireland, encourages Irish women to grow their businesses and offers a highly successful mentoring programme.
Founded 12 years ago by Paula Fitzsimons, Going for Growth is a six month part time programme designed to help ambitious female entrepreneurs to meet their growth aspirations and to realise their full potential here in Ireland and in export markets. It works through a unique learning environment involving round tables centred on experienced Lead Entrepreneurs. All of these women give their time on a voluntary basis and many are past participants of the programme.
This year they included: Gillian O’Dowd of Azon Recruitment, Eimer Hannon of Hannon Travel, Oonagh O’Hagan, owner of Meagher’s Pharmacy Group and Chupi Sweetman, the jewellery designer.
The most recent 12th cycle of the programme ran from January to June 2020, with many roundtable discussions taking place virtually from March this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year more than ever, the programme proved an important tool for ambitious businesses in navigating challenging economic times.
One past participant is Dr. Vanessa Creaven, from Spotlight Oral Care. Established with her sister and fellow dentist Dr. Lisa Creaven, the company produces safe and effective oral care products, with clinically proven active ingredients.
The company, which launched in 2016, has products for sale in Boots, Tesco, Dunnes Stores as well as in pharmacies across the country. They also export to 15 countries and have recently signed a deal with Target and Ulta Beauty in the US.
“When I began on the Going for Growth cycle, I expected I would gain a lot of expertise, but I had no idea as to the extent of that expertise, or the friendships I would make along the way,” said Vanessa Creaven.
Most owner/managers agree that growing a business can be a very isolating experience and it can be difficult to find someone on your wavelength who understands the issues involved. The Going for Growth initiative is designed to address these challenges and those selected will join interactive round table sessions led by Lead Entrepreneurs.
Previous participants report significant progress. At the conclusion of the previous 11th cycle of Going for Growth, 64 participants reported:
As well as being a Tax Director, I also help run KPMG’s support of Going for Growth, a programme for female entrepreneurs that’s co-funded by KPMG in Ireland. By advising on taxation, corporate finance, accounting, law, regulation and other practical aspects of building a business, we help women grow and scale their businesses. Being able to bring them the full breadth of our knowledge is what makes being a part of this programme so special.
I started working with Going for Growth in 2015, delivering tax advice and bringing budding and established entrepreneurs together in tax workshops. From there, our team, led by Olivia Lynch, Tax Partner, KPMG in Ireland, identified more areas where KPMG could help and we reached back into our own network to bring more KPMG professionals into the programme.
It’s very much like an exam case study come to life. There are ‘Starting Strong,’ ‘Going for Growth,’ and ‘Continuing the Momentum’ strands, so you get to help the founders at each stage. Everyone involved from KPMG is passionate about the programme — a huge bank of goodwill is built up as you help these innovative and courageous women step away from the day-to-day work so they can rise beyond working in the business to working on the business.
It’s genuinely inspirational hearing their stories, challenges and successes and seeing how they build a very open forum where people trust each other and are willing to share and learn from one another. It mitigates some of the loneliness that comes with running your own business and it helps us understand what these founders need at all stages of their journeys.
My favorite bit of feedback from participants is when they say ‘I didn’t know KPMG does that.’ It brings to life that while we’re a big organisation, we’re not too big for the start-ups and smaller companies with ambition and we can help them in ways that they didn’t know possible.
Entrepreneurs are critical to the future success of the Irish economy. As advisors to a wide range of family and privately-owned businesses, we applaud the proven record of Going for Growth in helping women in business realise their full potential. At KPMG we work with many businesses in overcoming challenges and creating opportunities and we’re delighted to continue our support for this exceptional programme. In doing so, we recognise the key role of Enterprise Ireland, all of the Lead Entrepreneurs and the contribution of so many hugely committed individuals. I have no doubt that the 12th cycle will prove highly valuable to all of the participants.
Since we became involved, over 300 female entrepreneurs have participated in Going for Growth. This has translated into improved business performance and we are proud that so many participants report increased turnover, more exports and an increase in jobs created across Ireland.
Members of the Going for Growth community have been involved in some of our other citizenship initiatives and this has further proven the great value of the programme.