5 essential supports for female entrepreneurs in Ireland

Starting your own business? There are more supports available for women in business than you may think


It takes a special type of person to become an entrepreneur. You need to be unafraid of risk and failure, steely in your determination to succeed, and be a jack of all trades, from marketing to production to accounting. It can be exhausting, challenging, and, especially in 2020, very scary.

But remember, there are supports out there for women in business, and help is available for those struggling under COVID-19. Whether it's funding, a network of like-minded women, or further education to get your idea off the ground, doing your research on what's available can pay off massively.

Here are five resources we've found for female entrepreneurs in Ireland that can be invaluable in the success of your business.

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Enterprise Ireland's Competitive Start Fund

Enterprise Ireland offers an annual fund for start-ups in Ireland that includes a category specifically for Women Entrepreneurship. In your application, you must demonstrate that your product or service has reached Minimal Viable Product (MVP) stage, as well as having a clear execution plan for your business.

The maximum level of funding per successful application is €50,000, which is split into two payments of €25,000. Applications for this year's Competitive Start Fund close next Tuesday August 18, so make sure to give it a look.

Local Enterprise Office's Women in Business Network

If you feel you need some inspiration from other female entrepreneurs, or just to hash out your ideas with like-minded people. the Local Enterprise Office's Women in Business Network is a great place to start. Costing just €50 for the rest of 2020, the Network stages a number of events around the challenges facing small female-owned businesses — past topics include improving your online presence, managing cash flow during Covid-19 and reducing your business' carbon footprint.

ACORNS - Accelerating the Creation of Rural Nascent Start-ups

If your business is based in rural Ireland, the ACORNS programme is specifically tailored to your needs. Run over six months (part-time), the programme stages interactive round-table sessions with a Lead Entrepreneur, based on four key areas of business — Strategy, Marketing/Sales, Finance, and Implementation.

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Your business can be at both the very early stages or more advanced to apply — the only stipulation is that it is based outside the city limits of Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick and Waterford. Best of all, it's completely free. Applications for ACORNS 6 are now open until September 21.

WeGate - European Gateway for Women's Entrepreneurship

If your sights are set beyond Ireland, support from a Europe-wide network of women in business may be what you're looking for. WeGate is an online platform launched by the European Commission and holds a wealth of knowledge about both starting and growing a business in Europe, and features information on everything from legal frameworks to funding options to localisation issues. The website has a number of E-learning tools available, as well as a community of European entrepreneurs and stakeholders to learn from.

The DCU Ryan Academy's Female High Fliers Programme

If your business development and leadership skills need a push, the Female High Fliers Programme is a further education course that could really benefit you. The acceleration programme is a 13-week course open to both individuals and teams of up to three people. The company must be female-led, show strong growth and export potential, and must be MVP developed and have customers. You'll receive weekly workshops and training content, exposure to mentor panels, and access to the DCU Ryan Academy experienced entrepreneurs and investor network.


Read more: This is a seminal time for working women. But we must move fast to keep choice in the workplace

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Read more: 'I was in limbo for months': what it's like to start a new job during Covid-19

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