Chair of National Women’s Enterprise Day: Attending is an ‘investment’

5 Oct 2020

Orla Martin, chairperson of NWED organising committee. Image: NWED

As we get closer to this year’s National Women’s Enterprise Day, chair Orla Martin explains why it’s a great opportunity for woman entrepreneurs.

National Women’s Enterprise Day (NWED) is taking place on 14 October this year. In line with Government restrictions and public health advice, 2020’s events will be online.

They include networking events and sessions on embracing change, self-care and leadership development from more than 20 speakers, such as LIFT Ireland’s Joanne Hession, Grow Remote’s Tracy Keogh and Pestle & Mortar’s Sonia Deasy.

The programme will be led by MC Áine Kerr of Kinzen and will finish up with a ‘marketplace’ event. Here, attendees will get the chance to promote their products and services in a facilitated forum.

To learn more about NWED, we spoke to chair of its organising committee and head of enterprise with Local Enterprise Office in Offaly, Orla Martin. Explaining the purpose of the annual event, Martin said: “Since the very first National Women’s Enterprise Day took place 14 years ago, the goal is always to promote, develop and support female entrepreneurship in Ireland and to showcase all the supports that are available.”

In general, such events are important for a number of reasons. Martin says having a dedicated day for women in enterprise creates “a big impact nationally”.

“It shines a light on some of Ireland’s leading female entrepreneurs and rising stars and it celebrates the diverse range of businesses run by women of all ages in Ireland,” she adds.

It also gives women in business and those aspiring to set up their own business access to role models and forum where they can learn from the experiences of others. Practically, it sets out the different supports available for woman entrepreneurs, she explains, from Local Enterprise Offices, Enterprise Ireland, Microfinance Ireland and others.

NWED 2020: ‘Stronger together’

The theme for this year’s NWED is ‘stronger together’. “Within that, the big themes this year are resilience, self-care, innovation and opportunity,” Martin says.

“The themes of resilience and self-care acknowledge the challenges of setting up and running a business, especially in the middle of a global pandemic.

“We also want to show how small changes can make big impacts, how we can learn from each other, how small businesses can cultivate innovation and how international markets can offer new opportunities.”

Martin is excited about the “sheer scale of this year’s event”. She believes the programme is “inspiring, timely and relevant”.

“We’ll be highlighting many more female entrepreneurs from around the country in the lead-up to 14 October, such as Derya Sousa of Kianda Technologies, Dr Anita Finnegan of Nova Leah, Clare Hughes of CF Pharma and Susan O’Flaherty of Retrokit,” she says.

“We have online networking and marketplace forums and a number of spotlight sessions that will be recorded and accessible on demand after the event. We also have lots of spot prizes to be won. These are products and services from small businesses around the country, sponsored by the Local Enterprise Offices.”

Attending is an ‘investment’

If you’re on the fence about attending, Martin says to view it as an “investment”. For women participating in NWED, she explains, it is an “investment in themselves and their business”, as well as an “opportunity to network and promote their products and services”.

“So be inspired, be encouraged and be informed about the wide range of enterprise supports available,” she adds. “And remember that we’re stronger together.”

All NWED events are free to attend. Those interested in taking part can pre-register here.

Lisa Ardill was careers editor at Silicon Republic until June 2021