Confident Women Ireland: Giving a voice to female entrepeneurs, start-ups and small to medium enterprises
A local broadcaster and executive coach is on a mission to give a voice to small businesses in Kilkenny as they fight to survive in the age of the pandemic.
Roisin Ni Chleirigh is the presenter of the popular Start Me Up Business Programme on Community Radio Kilkenny City (CRKC) and the founder of Confident Women Ireland, which aims to empower women in business.
Roisin originally devised the programme to provide a much-needed platform for local start-ups, many of whom had no other outlet to promote their business. Since the pandemic hit Roisin has also used the programme to give a voice to small local business and enterprises from every sector as they try to get back on their feet during these difficult times.
The mother-of-two has also lobbied local politicians on behalf of the small business community, urging them to provide greater supports and packages to enable them to weather the Covid storm.
The broadcaster said in an interview with KilkennyNow.ie: “We all know it’s been an incredibly difficult time for businesses, especially smaller companies and start-ups who are desperately trying to operate and trade under extremely difficult circumstances.
“I’ve very pleased to have been able to help in my own way, which is really to provide a platform for all the many wonderful businesses out there, some of whom are doing extraordinary things to survive and thrive in the face of Covid and all the challenges this brings.
“The Start Me Up Business Programme tries to help and empower many local start-ups to launch their business on a local media platform: telling their stories of who they are, what they do and – crucially – how they do what they do. We provide a platform to showcase their business in a safe, friendly and understanding environment and connect them with local audiences – and potential customers.
“We’ve also provided a sort of communications springboard for many local companies who have used the experience and went on to appear on national radio shows and print and online media outlets.”
Roisin has also created a unique networking platform through introducing local start-ups to other business owners and entrepreneurs across the country.
“Yes, it’s been lovely to be able to act as a sort of communications Cupid,” laughs Roisin.
“Recently we had Ann Healy from Biddy’s Good Luck Horse Shoes on air to and introduced her to another entrepreneur, the ‘Tweeting Goddess’ Samantha Kelly. Within a few weeks Ann was speaking to a global audience on the Women’s Inspire Network and then to another business network in New York. This is a great example of how local media can successfully promote local businesses and in some cases help propel them onto a global stage.”
The Government moved quickly to support businesses when the pandemic hit, introducing the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS). The Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) was unveiled as part of Budget 2021. Many small businesses have also benefited from the Online Trading Voucher scheme along with other grants and loan supports.
While Roisin is broadly supportive of the Government’s moves to help companies, she said a more structured system of supports is needed to ensure businesses can survive in the long term.
“The pandemic and recession have caused massive anxiety and street for small business owners, many of whom are now fighting for their lives. But let’s call a spade a spade: there was no blueprint for this, no time to formulate a crisis management plan in the face of what has been an unprecedented global public health emergency.
“We know the supports, grants, loans that are currently in place won’t be there forever – you can’t keep every business on a life support machine indefinitely. But in terms of communication I think there is massive insecurity in the tourism and hospitality sectors – which we rely on so much here in Kilkenny – and they need to be given a far clearer plan and roadmap for recovery.”
Communications, according to Roisin, is key and she has lobbied politicians to see if better ways can be found to help new and small enterprises to communicate the unique story of their brand and business so that it reaches their target audiences and translates into sales.
She explains: “For many businesses, the biggest challenge is getting their story out there so that they can reach their target demographic. Many businesses go under because they struggle to reach or connect with their audience and client base and I think there is huge scope to develop a practical communications package that will help businesses to develop their brand and achieve the sort of sales they need to grow.”
Overall, Roisin says she has been hugely impressed with the resolve and creativity that local businesses have shown during these extremely challenging times.
“Small businesses are the heartbeat of Kilkenny city’s business community and they’ve shown incredible resilience in the way they have pulled together and put all the various health and safety measures in place in recent months to keeping the people of Kilkenny safe,” adds Roisin.
“There is a sense of honour and duty towards their local community which is very admirable. There is an incredible entrepreneurial mindset within the small local businesses a sense of achievement of overcoming the obstacles and challenges that the pandemic has create and of being able to pivot and manage the change that is needed for their business to survive.
“I’ve been incredibly impressed with the resilience, determination, tenacity and motivation I’ve seen from the local business community during these difficult times. They have truly been an inspiration.”
The Start Me Up Business Programme airs on Community Radio Kilkenny City at 4pm every Monday.
If you are a small local business looking to have your voice heard, call Roisin directly on 087 418 7507 or email firstname.lastname@example.org