Feature

Women’s Enterprise

In early October, we spoke to Fiona Leahy from the Local Enterprise Office in Kerry. Ms Leahy, a Business Advisor & Training Coordinator for Kerry’s LEO was kind enough to take part in a brief interview regarding the “We’re stronger together” campaign. “We’re stronger together” was the message coming from Local Enterprise Offices around the country. Moreover, this initiative was run by LEO’s and was used as a launchpad to mark National Women’s Enterprise Day which takes place on Wednesday 14 October 2020. The central themes of this year’s campaign include resilience, self-care, innovation and opportunity. 

The Tánaiste, Mr Leo Varadker, who will be delivering the opening address on National Women’s Enterprise Day, said: “The ‘Stronger Together’ message for National Women’s Enterprise Day has never been more important. I look forward to addressing this year’s event and hearing from inspiring female business leaders on how they have managed the past few months.” Mr Varadker later added that “the Government is determined to help more women pursue entrepreneurship as a career and I’m encouraged to see such a significant increase – 58%, taking up the training programmes that are available. Training and mentorship can make a huge difference to any entrepreneur starting out, on what can often be a lonely journey, and I encourage all women considering setting up their own business to contact their Local Enterprise Office to see how they can help you.”

Below is a Q&A that was conducted between ourselves and Ms Leahy earlier this month. Additionally we would like to thank Ms Leahy and the Kerry Local Enterprise Office for their continued support and that we look forward to continuing to work with them in the future. 

1. What have the challenges been for you as Business Advisor & Training Co-Ordinator of the Local Enterprise Office in Kerry?

Staying connected with clients – a key part of my role involves meeting with businesses at all stages – early start ups to well-established businesses. We have always operated an “open door” policy here in LEO Kerry and met with clients daily. I would have also visited our various training programmes to meet with clients, ensure they had a “face to a name” within LEO Kerry to foster an entrepreneurial relationship going forward and get direct feedback on the training and services provided by LEO Kerry. Maintaining this connection has been a challenge

2. How have you and respected colleagues adapted to the changes that may have become apparent over the recent months? (what processes/technologies/people did you use to overcome these challenges?)

Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Conference calls….you name it! We’ve even installed a video phone in our office which people can use from our reception. All of our training and mentoring services have moved online and, thankfully, are busier than ever.

3. What lessons did you learn/ are you learning from this?

Learning to embrace change and put increased emphasis on self-care

4. What advice can you give based on your experience in this area thus far?

Small changes can make big impacts. We can learn from each other, now more than ever. Small businesses CAN cultivate innovation.

5. Would you mind telling me a bit more about the “The ‘Stronger Together’ message for National Women’s Enterprise Day

The aim of National Women’s Enterprise Day was always to promote, develop and support female entrepreneurship in Ireland and to showcase all the support that is available through the LEO network. This year the theme highlights that when we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. The focus is on learning from female entrepreneurs during a day of education, inspiration and motivation! Within that, the big themes this year are resilience, self-care, innovation and opportunity.  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.  As we’re ‘Stronger Together’, we want to show how networking with other female entrepreneurs can help grow each other’s businesses and how international markets can offer new opportunities.

6. What does the future hold? (note changes in industry coming down the track, new tech, legislation etc.)

No one knows that the future holds but a crisis can often also represent opportunity. Businesses are future proofing and technology is changing the way we work….in many ways, for the better.

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