Going for Growth is an initiative to support female entrepreneurs who have been trading for at least two years and are strongly focused on growth. Most owner managers agree that it can be a very isolating experience and it can be difficult to find someone on your wavelength who understands the issues involved in successfully growing a business. The Going for Growth round table initiative is designed to address these challenges.
Going for Growth was designed and developed by Paula Fitzsimons, the National Director, and is coordinated by the Fitzsimons Consulting Team. Having just completed an 11th cycle, Going for Growth has supported over 660 women entrepreneurs to achieve their growth ambitions and measures its success in terms of the participants’ increased turnover, additional employment created and the number of new exporters.
Who is it for?
Going for Growth is for ambitious female entrepreneurs across all sectors who are located in the Republic of Ireland. The entrepreneur should already be the owner manager of a business of which she is a major shareholder and key influencer. Suitable applicants need to demonstrate significant aspiration for growth and should be working full time in the business. It is expected that the business will have been trading for at least two years. Applications will also be considered on an exceptional basis from candidates who have more recently set up businesses that are highly innovative and demonstrate significant ambition and expect to be selling in export markets.
Participants are offered a unique learning environment with a peer led approach based on the shared experiences of both a Lead Entrepreneur and other participants facing common challenges.
The Going for Growth round tables are centered on experienced or Lead Entrepreneurs, who each give about three hours of their time on a voluntary basis once a month to meet with a small group of women owner/managers to support their development. The round table sessions explore a series of relevant questions related to growth and work through a series of agendas which explore relevant questions with a focus on achieving growth.
The initiative has been endorsed by some successful business women who have agreed to become involved in the initiative as Lead Entrepreneurs. (Read more about the Lead Entrepreneurs here). These busy and successful business women have agreed to give their time on a voluntary basis to support women entrepreneurs to achieve their growth ambitions.
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. Each is prepared to share her learning with women entrepreneurs committed to growth, but whose businesses are less developed at this stage.
Going for Growth is designed to be action and results oriented and to go beyond class room style learning and the usual inputs of professional trainers, consultants and academics. The round tables are designed not to be theoretical or academic, but to be based on real experience of what has worked and what hasn’t worked in real life situations.
A National Forum is an integral part of the Going for Growth cycle. The Forum is designed to provide an opportunity to participants and Leads to network and to explore further a number of topics that all the round table groups consider important to their current situation.
Participation is free of charge.
In 2010, Going for Growth was nominated at a National level for the Investing in Skills category of the European Enterprise Awards 2011. This award recognises initiatives at regional or local level to improve entrepreneurial, vocational, technical and managerial skills.
In January 2014, the OECD LEED (Local Economic and Employment Development) and the EU described Going for Growth as an “inspiring practice” in a joint report “The Missing Entrepreneurs”, which focuses on those segments of the population that are less involved in entrepreneurial activity. Commenting on merits of Going for Growth, the report says: “The key element of this initiative is the manner in which it is led and championed by the private sector and supported by the public sector. The calibre of the lead volunteers underpins the success of the initiative and the fact that the groups are composed exclusively of women contributes to a full engagement by the participants.”
In 2014, the initiative has been highlighted as an inspiring practice by the OECD and the EU, as a Good Practice by the European Institute of Gender Equality and the reason that the Boots WMB Empowering Women Award was presented to Paula Fitzsimons.
Going for Growth was announced as the winner of the Investing In Entrepreneurial Skills category at the European Enterprise Promotion Award 2015.
The Going for Growth initiative is funded by Enterprise Ireland and KPMG.