This Thursday is National Women's Enterprise Day - an annual event designed to encourage women to start businesses, or to support those who already have. 

Sheelagh Daly, chair of the Local Enterprise Office network, said the event aims to inspire businesswomen and would-be entrepreneurs alike. "The network is not just there to start their businesses but very much to grow their businesses," she said, adding that the theme for this year's event is 'Open Doors to New Markets'.
"We have 15 events across the country, we're expecting over 1,000 women to attend but best of all we've 60 fantastic, successful female entrepreneurs who are going to be sharing their stories and inspiring those women to look at how can they actually grow their businesses."

The Local Enterprise Offices are State-supported entities based in local authorities providing information and support to start-ups and entrepreneurs. To that end, Ms Daly says they have a lot they can offer start-ups and businesses as they try to deal with the day-to-day of running a company. "In general what we do is offer supports to help people become better at running their businesses through management development and training programmes," she said. "We also offer a lot of mentoring and one-to-one business advice and then access to finance. Also, of course at the moment, one of the things that we're doing is focusing on competitiveness, productivity and preparing for Brexit."

Ciara Clancy, CEO at Beats Medical, is an example of someone who has benefited from the support of an LEO - and she is now an ambassador for National Women's Enterprise Day. Ms Clancy said it is a great honour to be one of the examples of success that's being put forward to other businesswomen. "Being able to share the stories of successful female entrepreneurs with either aspiring entrepreneurs or those who are already on that journey," she said. "It's very much a case of what you can see, you can be and this event really personifies that."

Through Beats Medical, Ms Clancy said she has engaged with her LEO from a very early stage, gaining support and advice as the company was getting off the ground. "There's so much on offer at your Local Enterprise Office; if you've already set up or you're thinking of setting up it's worth reaching out to get that advice because it's been really critical for us," she said.

National Women's Enterprise Day has been running for more than ten years now and in that time, the landscape for female entrepreneurs has improved considerably. There are still challenges, of course, but Ms Clancy feels that people should look to the positive in terms of what is being done in the area. "There certainly are challenges in Ireland but I do think it's important to be positive about it", she said. "Things are changing and events like this play an important role in that. We're seeing the number of female role models growing in Ireland and having the ability to be mentored by other female entrepreneurs is hugely important. That was a problem and a challenge and is really changing, and the event that's going on across the country on Thursday is bringing potential mentors together with entrepreneurs to elevate us all as a whole," she added.

MORNING BRIEFS - The pace of construction activity rose in September, according to the latest Purchasing Managers' Index from Ulster Bank, though it remains uneven across the sector. Housing activity continued to grow during the month, though at a slower rate than was seen in August, while the pace of activity in the commercial sector rose considerably. Civil engineering work continued to contract, though at a slower pace than before, while the pace of new orders and employment growth also eased.

*** German industrial production jumped more than expected in August, posting its biggest monthly increase in more than six years. Industrial output in the country rose by 2.6% in August, easily beating forecasts for a 0.7% rise.

*** Irish software company Softco has secured a $20m contract with the Finnish government, which it said will save Finland's state €1 billion over the next 12 years. SoftCo's software is designed to automate the finances of government bodies and firms, and the company includes Volkswagen and Primark amongst its list of users.

***EBS has announced reductions in its fixed mortgage rates for new and existing home mortgage customers.
The lender also said it will extend its 2% back in cash offer for new mortgage customers.    EBS said all its fixed rates will be cut, with the three year fixed reduced to 3.15% from 3.65% and the five year fixed down to 3.25% from 3.8%.