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Business Women As a Platform for Progress

Ellvena Graham was speaking at the International Business Women Conference this week. Here are some of the points she made.

A good few days for Belfast and NI

The International Business Women conference will carry on what has been a really positive past few days for Belfast and Northern Ireland.We had the Giro d’Italia at the weekend, with thousands of visitors getting the opportunity to see all the great things Belfast has to offer. ‘The Giro’ put Northern Ireland in the global spotlight, and this event will certainly help do that too

Northern Ireland as a place that is progressive and entrepreneurial

This no doubt reflects well on the city and on Northern Ireland as a place that is progressive, entrepreneurial, and determined to create the conditions for businesses to thrive. And one of the conditions for a thriving business sector is of course to have women well-represented in the private sector and to have healthy levels of female entrepreneurship

Ulster Bank

Business women can

This is an area that we in Ulster Bank are passionate about. We are proud to be a partner of Women in Business NI. We are also proud to run our own Ulster Bank Business Women Can initiative. This seeks to support female entrepreneurship across the island of Ireland by way of mentoring, local connectivity and social media.

Business achievers

We have just launched the 2014 Ulster Bank Business Achievers Awards, which include a dedicated category for Female Led Businesses. It actually received the highest levels of entries across all categories last year, with 32% of the overall nominees.

We are involved in all of these initiatives because Ulster Bank wants to lead the way in this space and to be the bank of choice for women led businesses in Northern Ireland and across the island.

Women in agri

The Balmoral Show takes place this week – the flagship event for agri-food in Northern Ireland. As the principal sponsor of the show, we at Ulster Bank know the huge importance of the sector to Northern Ireland. And this year, for the very first time, the show will take place with Northern Ireland’s largest agri-food business, and indeed Northern Ireland’s largest company, headed by a woman – Janet McCollum, the chief executive of Moy Park.

A platform for progress

Top NI companies
This is fantastic news. And it is a platform from which to progress. At present, just five of the Top 100 NI companies, according to the Belfast Telegraph, are led by women, and seeing this number increase can only be a good thing.

Female entrepreneurship
In terms of entrepreneurship, we are told that if as many women as men were setting up a business in Northern Ireland, we would have over 28,000 more entrepreneurs. That would clearly have a dramatic and very positive effect on the economy.

This event over the next few days, and the wider programme of activities carried out by Women in Business NI will continue to play no small part in that.

Last thought.

While the latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor again confirmed that in most economies female entrepreneurs are outnumbered by males, the results show that female entrepreneurs are generally more satisfied, with higher scores for well-being and work-life balance. So over the next few days, we should engage, learn, be inspired but also have fun and enjoy! I have no doubt we wil.


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