Female founders have traditionally been under-represented in the start-up arena, something that Enterprise Ireland (EI) is committed to change. A key part of this commitment is the Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs, which was first launched in 2012. Since then EI has launched 9 dedicated female Competitive Start Funds.
The purpose of the Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs is to accelerate the growth of female founded start-up companies that have the potential to employ more than 10 people and achieve €1 million in export sales within three years. This is achieved by means of a €50,000 equity investment in the company. The fund is designed to enable companies to reach key commercial and technical milestones which will ensure the delivery of their product or service to an international audience.
In 2018 Enterprise Ireland allocated €1 million in funding under the Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs. In 2018, 7 female led businesses were successful. Female-led businesses can also take part in general and sector specific calls. A further 3 female led businesses were successful in the general Competitive Start Fund calls.
In 2018, 22% of all companies who received investment from EI through Competitive Start Funds were led by women. To build on this, Enterprise Ireland is currently working on a new six-year strategy for female entrepreneurship aimed at:
- increasing the number of females that choose to start a business,
- increasing the number of female founded high potential start-ups,
- increasing exports and jobs growth in female led companies, by 2025.
The most recent Competitive Start Fund for female entrepreneurs was launched in June 2019, with a total of €750,000 being made available for up to 15 female led companies. The call opened for applications on the 25th of June and will close on the 16th of July 2019.