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High-profile business women urge others to join development programme

Development programme for female entrepreneurs

Going for Growth launches call for applicants for the 11th cycle of award-winning programme

Olivia Lynch

Tax Partner

KPMG in Ireland


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Call is opened for Going for Growth programme aimed at ambitious female entrepreners. Pictured are (l-r) Olivia Lynch, Partner KPMG; Mary O'Brien, CEO videoDoc; Julie Sinnamon, CEO Enterprise Ireland

Call is opened for Going for Growth programme aimed at ambitious female entrepreners. Pictured are (l-r) Olivia Lynch, Partner KPMG; Mary O'Brien, CEO videoDoc; Julie Sinnamon, CEO Enterprise Ireland

  • Going for Growth launches call for applicants for the 11th cycle of award-winning programme
  • Susan Spence and Marissa Carter among Lead Entrepreneurs
  • Focus on ambitious female entrepreneurs who want to scale their businesses

The call is open for ambitious female entrepreneurs who are looking to scale their businesses to join the latest cycle of Going for Growth, the award-winning business development programme.

Going for Growth is a six-month part-time programme, sponsored by Enterprise Ireland and KPMG, which assists ambitious female entrepreneurs to achieve their growth aspirations.

The programme is seeking applications from female entrepreneurs – across all sectors – who are strongly focussed on growth. Ideally, businesses should be well established and trading for at least two years. (Eligibility criteria in notes below)

Sixty places will be available for this 11th cycle of Going for Growth, which will run from January to June 2018 and the deadline for applications is Wednesday, November, 28th. There is no charge for those selected. Anyone interested is encouraged to register their interest in receiving an application form at

One past participant is Mary O’Brien, CEO and co-founder of online medical service videoDoc, which has gone from no employees when she joined Going for Growth to 32 staff in Dublin and London, with plans to double this in the next six to 12 months.

Some of videoDoc’s clients include the NHS, the British Army, a premiership football club, hospitals, health insurance providers and employee benefit providers in the UK and Ireland.

Since starting with Going for Growth, we have raised €5.5m with plans to close another similar funding round early next year. We are in 250 pharmacies in Ireland, England and Scotland, offering in-store doctor services and have also launched therapy and physiotherapy online services,’ said Mary O’Brien.

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 round table initiative is designed to address these challenges and those selected will join interactive round table sessions led by Lead Entrepreneurs.

The Lead Entrepreneurs are successful business women with personal experience of growing a business and urge others to apply for Going for Growth. These high-profile business leaders volunteer their time to encourage participants to set and achieve personalised goals and milestones to address the opportunities and challenges they face in driving growth in their businesses.

Some of this year’s Lead Entrepreneurs include: Louise Phelan, Paypal, Fidelma McGuirk, Payslip and Marian O’Gorman of The Kilkenny Group. Previous participants are ambassadors of the benefits for Going for Growth and several now volunteer their time as Lead Entrepreneurs, including: Marissa Carter, founder of Carter Beauty, Nikki Evans, founder of PerfectCard, and Oonagh O’Hagan, owner of Meagher’s Pharmacy Group. 

Susan Spence, co-founder and President of SoftCo, explains the reasons that she is a Going for Growth Lead Entrepreneur:

“I am happy to give my time to this worthwhile initiative on a voluntary basis and only wish that this type of support was available to me over the years as I was driving forward the growth of SoftCo. I have seen for myself that a collaborative peer-based approach based on growth goals and the shared experience of what works in real life situations, gives the type of support that ambitious entrepreneurs need.”

Going for Growth is designed to be action and results-oriented and to go beyond classroom style learning and the usual inputs of professional trainers, consultants and academics. The round tables are based on real experience of what has worked and what hasn’t worked in real life situations.

Previous participants report significant progress,with the great majority reporting an increase in confidence, a reduction in psychological isolation and a feeling of being nearer to achieving their growth goals.

At the conclusion of the most recent cycle (10th), the 65 participants reported:

  • combined sales of €66.8million, 
  • the creation of an additional 90 full time jobs, bringing to over 740 the total number employed, 
  • four first time exporters, increasing to 30 the number of participants with export experience. 

Julie Sinnamon, CEO Enterprise Ireland, said:

“Supporting ambitious business women to start new businesses is a key priority for Enterprise Ireland and in 2017 more than one in three Enterprise Ireland backed start-ups were led by women, an increase from one in ten just five years ago. Having impacted successfully on the number of start-up businesses led by female founders, a key focus for Enterprise Ireland is to increase the number of companies that achieve scale.

“The Going for Growth programme provides unique supports to ambitious business women in the achievement of their growth ambitions through learning, collaboration and most importantly, through role models and mentoring. We will continue to partner with Going for Growth, to grow the cohort of businesses of scale led by ambitious business women, expanding their reach in global markets, and creating and sustaining jobs at home.”

Olivia Lynch, Partner KPMG, said:

“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 eleventh cycle will prove highly valuable to all of the participants.”

This is the 11th year of the programme and more than 600 female entrepreneurs have so far taken part in Going for Growth. Check out for more details.

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact Paula Fitzsimons on +353 87 2774385 or Martha Kearns at StoryLab on +353 87 2720212


  • About Going for Growth
    Going for Growth is an initiative to support female entrepreneurs, regardless of sector, who have been trading for at least two years and are seriously committed to growing their businesses. Designed and developed by Paula Fitzsimons, Fitzsimons Consulting, ten Going for Growth cycles have already taken place since the pilot in 2008, with over 600 female entrepreneurs from across the country taking part in the initiative to date. For more information please visit
  • Eligibility criteria
    Applications will be considered from female entrepreneurs across all sectors who are located in the Republic of Ireland. Businesses of all sizes will be considered if a strong growth ambition can be demonstrated. The applicant should already be the owner-manager of a business of which she is a major shareholder and key influencer, and should be working full time on the business. It is expected that the business will have been trading for at least two years. In exceptional cases, a business at an earlier stage can be considered. 
  • Lead Entrepreneurs
    Successful businesswomen who have committed to become voluntary Lead Entrepreneurs for the next cycle of Going for Growth are: Fidelma McGuirk, Payslip; Fiona O’Carroll, Louise Phelan, PayPal; Monica Flood, formally Olas; Marissa Carter, Cocoa Brown/Carter Beauty; Marian O’Gorman, The Kilkenny Group; Oonagh O’Hagan, Meagher’s Pharmacy Group; Susan Spence, SoftCo. You can read more about the voluntary Lead Entrepreneurs here -
  • Previous participants
    Some of the past participants include: Andrea Linehan, GRID Finance, Chupi, Leonora O’Brien Pharmapod, Gillian O’Dowd, Azon Recruitment Group, Mary O’Brien, videoDoc, Jennifer Rock, The Skin Nerd, Ollwyn Moran, Cognikids, Claire McHugh, Axonista and Sara Mitchell, Poulet Bonne Femme.
  • International Recognition for Going for Growth
    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, recently released by the EU and OECD includes Going for Growth as a case study.

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