A word from our President Larissa Feeney

A word from Our President – Larissa Feeney

First and foremost, I want to express my gratitude to Jo Daly for her exceptional and unwavering dedication as the President of Donegal Women in Business Network for the past three years. Her remarkable contributions have left an enduring mark on the Network, transforming it into a more robust and dynamic group.

Additionally, I extend my heartfelt appreciation to Sheila Russell and Sally Murphy, who have graciously assumed the joint position of Vice President. I am confident that their presence will be an invaluable source of support to me, the committee, and all our valued members.

Donegal Women in Business Network was established in 1999 – the network will be 25 next year!! A quarter of a century of diligent volunteer effort, together with organisations like the Donegal Local Enterprise Officer, partnerships with Donegal ETB and sponsors with organisations such as ATU and McElhinneys have gone into making and shaping the Network.

There have been many women along that journey who have helped to break barriers and bring the network to where it is today – a proud,  ambitious and diverse group with roots in Donegal and connections all over the world. The committee are a voluntary group with diverse backgrounds and entrepreneurial expertise who bring passion, drive and the wisdom of lived experience to their role on the committee.  Each of us gives their time and energy for free because we fundamentally believe in the power and potential of women in Donegal.

Our purpose is clear – we want to be a part of the solution, to contribute to something that matters, in a way that makes a genuine difference to women and society.

As the president of the Network, I believe that our job is to pick up the baton and, in collaboration with our members and partners, continue to build an inclusive landscape for women in business that is both nourishing and sustainable. Our goal is to champion Donegal women and help to create a vibrant ecosystem where their collective achievements and aspirations thrive.

Members are welcome at every stage of their business journey, from dreaming to startup to expansion and everything in-between. When women are given the space and support to realise and grow their dreams, the impact is enormous. It is transformative not just for them – but for their families, their communities and the local economy. Our message is that success is defined by each of us, on an individual basis. It is typically non-linear, depending on our circumstances, what we want to achieve and what life stage we are at. We are passionate about emphasising the value that women in business bring to the local community. Their contribution is vital!

So, it is through that broad and inclusive lens that we welcome our members. We want to elevate and increase confidence among all women no matter what their age, stage, or background.

The world is going through such rapid change and digitisation. The women at that inaugural meeting back in 1999 could not have imagined the changes that would take place, the opportunities and the challenges. Today women in Donegal can connect with, and do business in literally every corner of the globe.

In order to maximise this value – It is crucial that women are able to access the support and network necessary to establish and grow their businesses, as it not only enables them to overcome the challenges they may face but also taps into their potential, drives economic growth, and fosters a more diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial landscape.

In today’s rapidly evolving business environment, we can see more and more women stepping into leadership roles both in the workplace, business and entrepreneurship. However, their journey towards success is often marked by unique challenges and barriers.

As well as the challenges we face as women in business – we also have the fact that we live in Donegal, often referred to as the Forgotten County – due to arguably underinvestment in education, infrastructure, health and industry.We cannot overestimate the importance of businesses in this network to addressing this imbalance. Women in business support themselves, their families and sometimes additional employees.

A supportive network is crucial for the sustained growth and fulfilment of their dreams. It provides a platform for sharing experiences, exchanging knowledge and fostering mentorship opportunities.  It also creates a sense of belonging that enables women to navigate inevitable obstacles with greater confidence and resilience.

By actively participating in networks that champion their ambitions, women in business not only enhance their own development but also contribute to the collective advancement of their peers and communities, ensuring a more inclusive and prosperous future for all.