Aiken PR

The Briefing


by Aiken PR



Over 300 delegates including business owners, entrepreneurs and start–ups gathered to attend the fourth Annual Female Entrepreneurs Conference presented by Women in Business and Enterprise Causeway at the Tullyglass Hotel, Ballymena to coincide with International Woman’s Week.

The Minister for the Economy, Diane Dodds joined a host of inspirational keynote speakers including Mandy Hickson, former RAF pilot, Mairead Mackle, local award winning entrepreneur and Colette Twomey, Managing Director and co–founder of Clonakilty Food Co who shared their experiences and knowledge to empower and encourage women working to grow their own business.

For the second year, the conference which is sponsored by  YES YOU CAN, the female enterprise support programme, featured the YES YOU CAN £20K Pitching competition, a collaboration between Women in Business, the 11 Local Councils and Invest NI which saw six regional winners go head to head.  Clare Caughey from Lisburn and Castlereagh scooped the top prize with her business SENsations Nest and walked away with an impressive £5k to support the development of her business.

The Minister said: “I would like to congratulate Clare Caughey and the other 35 regional finalists. They have shown that female entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland are already leading the way and achieving great things.

“There are encouraging signs that women are increasingly getting involved in entrepreneurship in Northern Ireland. Over 50% of participants in the council–run business start–up programme ‘Go for It’ over the past year were female with almost 3,000 women submitting business plans.

“I will ensure we continue to provide an environment that supports and encourages women to take the first step towards starting their own businesses.” 

Roseann Kelly, Women in Business Chief Executive continued, “As we celebrate International Women’s Week, our conference was an opportunity to recognise the success of women, while delivering motivation and empowerment. The UK is the start–up capital of Europe with over 1,100 new businesses setting up daily, however only one in three of these entrepreneurs are female. This reinforces the need for programmes such as YES YOU CAN to galvanise and support women to reach their full potential. According to the recent Alison Rose Review if female entrepreneurs reached their full potential it could add over £1.7 million to the NI Economy.

“I would like to congratulate all of the finalists who demonstrated that they are not afraid to be bold to achieve progress.  I would like to thank our six regional winners for their brilliant pitches and congratulate our overall winner Clare Caughey and I am excited about watching all these amazing women grow and wish them all the best with their future endeavours.”

For further information on Women in Business and the YES YOU CAN programme visit