Women Entrepreneurs In Northern Ireland Must be Encouraged Says Shannon

Strangford MP  Jim Shannon speaking at Westminster has welcomed recent reports that more women entrepreneurs could help drive the local Northern Ireland economy forward.

Mr Shannon said: “I recently read in an NI Business Info article that if as many women as men were thinking of setting up a business in Northern Ireland we would have over 28,000 more entrepreneurs.

“That would most definitely have a dramatic and very positive effect on the local economy and it is my opinion that this is not a far fetched issue.

[caption id="attachment_53868" align="alignleft" width="300"]Strangford MP Jim Shannon Strangford MP Jim Shannon[/caption]

“The advent of the Internet is now allowing more women to use their skills in a way that will benefit them and it is not simply men that are now suiting themselves for working hours with their flexible dot.com businesses.

“One needs only look at Facebook to see how people use this medium to display their abilities and you can have anything personalised and sent to you almost overnight by those who choose to make the best of their time on the Internet. This is entrepreneurship at its best.

“I recently met with a man and his wife who own several clothing shops in my constituency and the neighbouring constituency. They realised that there was potential for online shopping within their grasp and have now expanded to include this as well. I was seeking to have better broadband – which should be available –  for their shops to make this work a lot easier. The fact is that they saw an opportunity and took it and this is something that we need to be encouraging more women – and men – to take.” In Northern Ireland the average age for a female entrepreneur is late thirties, but anyone of any age can be an entrepreneur.

“Many women work part-time while setting up a business. This gives them the chance to develop their business idea while reducing the financial risk that may be involved. Others work flexible hours in their new business to allow them to look after a home or fulfil other commitments while getting the business off the ground. The opportunities are endless and it is clear that help and support should be given by the government to allow people to understand how best they can begin a new business.” Mr Shannon added: “In Northern Ireland, Invest NI in partnership with DETI have help available and indeed have a mentor programme where by new starts are helped. There is a training for women website which has useful courses and guidance and there are many other forms of help available.

“Women into Business is Northern Ireland’s premiere business women’s programme aimed at encouraging and supporting the progression of women hoping to enter or re-enter the workplace, through employment or self-employment. Women in Business NI (WIBNI) is also Northern Ireland’s largest and fastest growing network for business women and entrepreneurs.

“They have over 1,000 members and offer events aimed at helping women develop both personally and professionally, make connections and ultimately grow their business. WIBNI also offer a variety of free marketing benefits to all members including publication of their news articles in a quarterly magazine and in a monthly ezine.

“Again this is run in partnership with government departments DETI and DEL. There is potential for so much more if only more support were offered. It has to be remembered that the greater the success of new businesses – the greater the benefit to the local economy and the greater benefit to the country as a whole.

“Whether women wish to create their own business at home, or open a shop, five  shops or ten shops, the help and advice must be there to do so and the onus is on those of us in Westminster to ensure that it is provided.”