The rate of female entrepreneurialism is far outstripping that of their male counterparts, according to research from Aston University, and two local women have been instrumental in championing women in business for over a decade now.
Jayne Taggart, Chief Executive at Causeway Enterprise Agency, has been offering female only training and networking events for 16 years (since 2012) and Roseann Kelly who is the CEO of Women in Business NI, the largest and fastest growing business network for female entrepreneurs and senior women in management in Northern Ireland.
In 2013 Jayne became the Causeway Coast and Glens Ambassador for WIBNI expanding the network northwards to offer monthly Women in Business networking and training events at Causeway Enterprise Agency. These events encourage female entrepreneurship, celebrate career women and encourage women to network and share their experiences, tips and advice on running a business.
In 2017 the relationship was further cemented when Jayne and Roseann joined forces to launch NI’s Annual Female Entrepreneur Conference which marks International Women’sDay.
This year, CEA launched WIBNI programme The Power of 4, a free start-up support programme for women to help build their confidence and take their business ideas from concept to launch and plans are now in motion to launch of a local WIBNI Choir and a dragons’ den style competition for female founders.
Jayne and Roseann explained why their collaboration works: “Our events bring women together who can relate to and support one another in a meaningful and relevant way. They provide a space for women to talk about issues that affect them specifically and allow members to discuss and gain advice without judgement.”
Jayne elaborated: “We provide an environment where female entrepreneurs and those working in industry can discuss their projects, work life and career goals with ease. Members get to meet women in leadership, connect with mentors and explore new business and partnership opportunities – this enables everyone grow. Beyond encouraging entrepreneurship and enriching women’s careers, being part of the network brings a real sense of belonging and we’ve witnessed numerous women forge lasting friendships and relationships that have helped them
overcome challenges and realise their ambitions.”
Causeway Enterprise Agency and Women in Business helped busy mum Katrina Arbuthnot set up and grow her business.
Katrina founded KA Innovation Ltd in 2003 when she spotted a gap in the market for toning beds – an idea she’d developed a business plan at school as part of her GNVQ Business Studies assignment. Having worked for years as a retail manager Katrina was desperate for a change, she could feel herself burning out and wanted to get a better work life balance, one of the most common reasons women give for entering self-employment.
“Once I took the decision to start up my own business I was really excited but there were areas that I needed help with, like access to funding or marketing. That’s where Causeway
Enterprise Agency and Women in Business NI were amazing. The training and mentoring really helped me with business planning and at the events I met loads of women who were just like me, all trying to paddle our own canoes.”
Katrina’s family thought she was mad to leave a well-paid, full time job in management but
savvy business woman Katrina has proved them all wrong - 14 years later KA Innovation Ltd
is still going strong having added teeth whitening and food intolerance testing to her services. She has also designed a self-tanning aid “Tanndle” for those hard to reach body parts.
In 2012 Katrina became a mummy and loves how running her own business allows her to balance business and family life: “I get to be innovative, earn money and have quality time with my kids. I go to mums and tots and pick up my wee boy after school, those times are so precious to me.”
Katrina’s advice for female founders is to “be brave, speak to experts and get out there and network.
“Causeway Enterprise Agency’s WIBNI events are great; they give me the space, without judgement to be a mummy and a business woman. I was a bit nervous at the start going to the WIBNI Belfast events but when Causeway Enterprise got involved and started running WIBNI events locally I felt way more relaxed. The atmosphere is really friendly and everybody is so approachable and encouraging and at just £35 a year for membership it is definitely one of the best investments I make every year.”
To register for events and training sign up now at http://www.causeway-enterprise.co.uk/sign-up