Inspirational women helping to boost the rural economy
08 June 2012
Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has highlighted the opportunities available for rural women to set up in business.
The Minister was speaking at a seminar in Cookstown entitled ’ ‘Yes We’re Worth It!’ which featured a range of businesswoman who have capitalised on their rural roots and are now successful entrepreneurs. Organised by Rural Network NI, the seminar featured speakers whose entrepreneurial spirit has been supported by the NI Rural Development Programme.
The Minister said: “Despite the economic gloom and their busy lives, often involving the responsibility of childcare and eldercare, the women presenting at today’s seminar have been able to capitalise on their personal skills and ambition to create fruitful rural enterprises. “I would encourage any would-be female entrepreneurs to be inspired by these inspirational women, and to transform their business ideas into reality and to make use of the opportunities that exist under the Rural Development Programme. Whether it be diversifying a farm business, creating or developing a business or becoming involved in social enterprises which help our rural communities survive and thrive, rural women have the potential to help grow our economy.” The Minister added: “Women are a key target group for the Rural Development Programme with over 200 projects where women lead or are involved in having received a letter of offer. To ensure that the views of women are represented in the decision making process for the award of funding in local areas, a total of 66 women sit on Local Action Groups across the north. In addition to the positive work taken forward through this Programme, my Department has set itself challenging gender targets to reach by 2016, across all of its business functions. I am confident, that by working together we can increase the involvement and participation of rural women generally, and ensure that they have strong voices and seats at all decision-making tables.”
Speaking after the event, Teresa Canavan of Rural Network NI said: “The idea for the seminar evolved naturally in that the Local Action Groups reported significant numbers of women applying to the Rural Development Programme for funding support to establish or develop businesses. We felt there was merit in bringing these women together both as a networking opportunity and a chance to inspire other women who may want to follow their path. “This seminar catered for a wide range of women, some who have already grasped opportunities in business or in social enterprises and others who have a real desire to do so. We chose’ ‘Yes We’re Worth It!’ as a theme as these women have primarily invested in themselves. In turn the Rural Development Programme has supported their ‘can-do’ attitudes to help them create sustainable jobs for themselves and others and make a real and tangible difference to the rural areas where they live and work.”
Notes to editors: 1. A range of businesses run by women who have bucked current economic trends and carved out niche businesses also presented and exhibited at the event.
Ciara Tiernan from Co. Down, who with her husband Derek, runs Willow Tree Timber Products manufacturers of hand-built timber range including poultry houses, children’s timber castles and play boats;
Orla Hamilton from Moira, a former teacher, established Organic Celtic Soaps initially as gifts for friends and family but now has a permanent stall at St Georges Market and orders have been requested by several local and UK based shops;
Jacqueline McGonigle, runs WhatsonNI, from her home in Upperlands, Mid Ulster. The website provides a platform for event organisers to promote their events free of charge, creating a searchable database of things to do and see across the region;
Shauna McCarney has grown her frozen organic baby food production company Heavenly Tasty Organics and has won several awards in the process;
Gayle Hegarty established her business ‘Homecraft Revival’ offering one day courses in homecraft skills to anyone who wants to learn or relearn creative pastimes such as sewing machine skills, knitting or crochet. The business operates from the owner’s farmhouse, near Omagh, offering high quality, informal individual training.
2. The Rural Network NI is managed by the NI Rural Development Council (RDC). 3. The Programme is delivered through a range of structures delivered by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD); Forestry Service; the Countryside Agri Rural Partnership and seven Council Clusters represented of seven Joint Council Committees and seven Local Action Groups. 4. For information on funding opportunities available through the NI Rural Development Programme (NIRDP) 2007-2013 view the Rural Network website: http://www.ruralnetworkni.org.uk 5. The NI Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. 6. The Department published its Audit of Inequalities and Action Plan in 2011. This 5-year plan sets out the Department’s commitment to improve representation by women on its NDPBs, associated bodies and internal decision-making teams. The Department aims to increase women’s representation to 50% by 2016. 7. All media queries should be directed to the DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.