‘Yes You Can’, a three-year business start-up and growth programme was launched at the 3rd annual Female Entrepreneur Conference on Friday, International Women’s Day, at Galgorm Resort and Spa, which brought together entrepreneurial speakers, masterclasses and workshops.
The programme, a collaboration with Women in Business, Invest Northern Ireland and the 11 local councils, was launched with a Pitching Competition with a £20,000 prize fund up for grabs.
Six regional finalists from across Northern Ireland were selected from over 258 entrants for their innovative ideas and entrepreneurial spirit. At the event, the regional winners including, Sweet Robyn’s, Beechfield Flower Farm, Stables Flower Co., Ke Nako Biltong, Esther Women Ltd. and McAnallen Ltd were announced and awarded with £3,000 before they took to the stage to pitch their business ideas to conference attendees.
Votes from the delegates at the event crowned Sarah McAnallen was the overall winner and she was awarded with an additional £2,000, which will support the development of her business which offers independence for many who have suffered from an illness with an innovative product, Ezi-Sock which allows individuals to put on socks in a seating position without needing to bend down.
Lesley O’Hanlon, Head of Programmes at Women in Business commented, “We are delighted to have launched the three year ‘Yes You Can’ Programme at the Female Entrepreneur Conference. All of our Pitching Competition regional winners were worthy recipients and their pitches reflected the entrepreneurial spirt that is synonymous with Northern Ireland. I would like to congratulate Sarah McAnallen – her pitch was truly refreshing, and I am excited to see her business thrive over the coming years.
“The Yes You Can programme is an exciting opportunity for female entrepreneurs from all sectors and at all stages of their careers to benefit from support, mentoring and advice. There is a range of initiatives taking place including mentoring, bootcamps, residentials and networking opportunities. We were delighted with the interest the Pitching Competition generated and it is a great way to kick off the three year programme.”
Des Gartland, Acting Executive Director for Regional Business Invest NI said: “Yes You Can provides an opportunity for Invest NI, WIB and all 11 Councils to work together, to offer a range of initiatives that will positively impact on female enterprise throughout Northern Ireland. This is the first Northern Ireland wide programme to promote and develop female enterprise and Invest NI is delighted to be involved with this exciting new initiative.”
Over the three years of the ‘Yes You Can’ programme, female entrepreneurs from across Northern Ireland can benefit from a range of motivational and supportive events and programmes including: Imagine It, a bootcamp for women at the pre-start stage who have a business idea or who wish to explore career options; Explore It, an initiative which targets women who have not started trading; Sell It, a residential to inspire women already trading and; Local Female Networks, where those attending will be motivated by keynote speakers and will benefit from facilitated networking with likeminded women.