Wednesday, 28 September 2005
Dáil Éireann Debate
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. Martin): The county and city enterprise boards, CEBs, exist alongside a number of other nationally and locally delivered supports for micro-enterprises, including Enterprise Ireland and local Leader groups, which support small enterprise.
The CEBs can assist in the establishment and-or development of eligible new and existing enterprises from individuals-sole traders, companies and community groups, primarily in the traded services, manufacturing and tourism sectors. In order to be eligible for such support, projects must be: in the commercial sphere; demonstrate a market for the product-service; and, most importantly, have a capacity for growth and new job creation.
As part of their ongoing commitment to enterprise development, the CEBs support the provision of Women in Business training, a programme which promotes successful female entrepreneurs as role models. By developing appropriate management development programmes and using mentoring and networking opportunities they target the confidence-building needs of emerging female entrepreneurs for the purpose of exchanging information and experience between them. More generally, and with a view to optimising levels of gender equality, CEBs seek to incorporate the principle of gender mainstreaming into the planning and implementation of their operational activities and associated structures. During 2004 a total of 2,471 women participated in the Women in Business programme.
An important aspect of the programme is the way in which CEBs promote successful female entrepreneurs, by bringing together women who are already successfully running their own businesses, and women who aspire to emulate them, for the purpose of sharing information and experience. The networks provide an ongoing programme of activities on business-related topics such as insurance and taxation. High profile women entrepreneurs frequently appear as guest speakers at the network events.
The CEBs also actively encourage the participation of women in training and development programmes such as Start Your Own Business courses and management development programmes. In 2004, over 8,925 women received training on CEB — measure 2 — programmes throughout the country and over 1,347 women completed certified training.
As regards larger enterprises, Enterprise Ireland provides business development assistance to such enterprises under policy directions given by my Department, in accordance with the relevant Industrial Development Acts. All supports provided through Enterprise Ireland are available to eligible companies, subject to criteria, and there is no gender qualification for any such support.
Enterprise Ireland represents Ireland in the EU-sponsored network to promote women’s entrepreneurship, WES, a network of European public sector bodies. Enterprise Ireland is also represented on the national development plan-community support framework, equal opportunities and social inclusion co-ordinating committee.
Enterprise Ireland also co-sponsors the annual global entrepreneurship monitor, GEM, report, which tracks Ireland’s entrepreneurial activity rate year on year and compares Ireland’s performance with a range of other countries. The GEM report analyses total entrepreneurial activity in Ireland over a range of specific indicators, including gender.
As regards training, the national training and employment authority, FÁS, provides courses which are open to both men and women equally. In particular, Expanding the Workforce Process — a process which aims to provide a gateway for women returners into the labour market — is one of the ways in which FÁS is adopting more flexible methods of delivering services. Part of the mainstreaming of this process this year and in 2006 will be to focus on enterprise development for women looking to enter-re-enter the labour market, with a particular focus on women’s needs in this area. During the pilot of this process, in the period January 2002 to 2004, women returners who identified and expressed an interest and ability in entrepreneurial activity were directed to the Start Your Own Business course.
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