NI Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster makes case for female entrepreneurs

17 Jun 2013

Northern Ireland Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster speaks at an event at the Stormont Hotel, Belfast, in November 2011. Image via NICVA/Flickr

Northern Ireland has a vast reserve of untapped female entrepreneurial potential that could become a significant driver of the Northern Ireland economy, Northern Ireland Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has said.

Foster made the comments while delivering the opening address recently at the Clinton Centre International Summer School’s Panel Day in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, entitled ‘Women in Society’.

Foster said Northern Ireland’s female business leaders are role models who can inspire the next generation, and increasing the amount of female entrepreneurship is more important than ever.

“We are all aware of the contribution women make to our economy, whether as business leaders, business people or in politics,” Foster said.

“However, women remain the largest under-represented group when it comes to enterprise in Northern Ireland. Despite the level of female entrepreneurship rising to a record high in 2011, Northern Ireland continues to have the lowest ratio of female-to-male entrepreneurial activity rate (38pc) and is 10pc lower than the UK as a whole.

“That means that there is a vast reserve of untapped potential which could become an even more significant driver of the Northern Ireland economy.”

Foster added that the Northern Ireland Executive’s Economic Strategy sets out the steps required to boost the private sector and improve Northern Ireland’s economic competitiveness.

“We need to encourage a greater number of people to start new, innovative, globally focused businesses and Invest Northern Ireland’s recently launched Regional Start Initiative aims to do just that,” said Foster.

‘Women in Society’ featured an audience of 60 local women and young people, international young leaders from 10 countries, as well as delegates and keynote speakers from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the US.

Women Invent Tomorrow is Silicon Republic’s year-long campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology,engineering and maths

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic