Two months ago, I accepted the position of CEO of the Cork Foundation. The decision was simple and after sixteen years of living and working abroad—NYC, San Francisco, Chicago—I returned home and became part of an organisation that I admire, one that is changing Cork and changing Ireland for the better.
So what is it that Cork Foundation does? We complement existing enterprise support services by bridging gaps in current funding models, therefore addressing many of the challenges facing Cork companies in accessing credit and finance. By working with donors both in Ireland and abroad, we bridge the funding gap and provide vital financial assistance to regional businesses as they strive to expand, develop or sustain their businesses.
In short, we help Cork businesses take on the world! We give them wings.
We are the first organisation in all of Europe to be doing something like this. The whole idea behind our initiative stems from one simple thing: our faith in Cork. Cork has so much potential to become a thriving metropolis. We should be soaring! We have leading universities, a top research centre, a large natural harbour and we are home to a variety of the world’s biggest corporations. In addition to this we have a plethora of budding entrepreneurs just waiting for their chance to share their big ideas.
So let’s grant them that chance.
The Cork Foundation believes that entrepreneurship is essential as Cork works to establish itself. Start-up businesses account for around two thirds of new jobs created in Ireland, but access to finance remains the number one barrier for entrepreneurs. This is where we come in—this is where we help these bright minds of Cork, these leaders of tomorrow; show the world what they’ve got. It’s time to think BIG. Could the next big innovators be in our midst? We certainly think so. What if they never get the chance to create their booming enterprise due to a simple lack of funding? Can you fathom all the waste?
I shudder to think.
There is no reason that Cork shouldn’t be a flourishing business economy—we have the talent, the resources and the drive. What Cork is missing, and what Cork Foundation strives to create, are the opportunities.
Though our primary focus remains on obtaining funding for indigenous businesses, our engagement overseas brought us into contact with two US organisations that focus on supporting female entrepreneurs: BIG (Believe Inspire Grow) and Leading Women Entrepreneurs. Once we started talking with these women we discovered the opportunity to create something special, and that led us to establish the events of July 30th. The day will see 8 delegates from these US organisations travel to Ireland to share advice/swap experiences with local businesswomen in the hopes of broadening business horizons for all involved.
July 30th will kick off with a morning Thought Leadership Session, hosted by Cork Innovates and conclude with a Networking Evening, hosted by Cork Foundation and sponsored by Vodafone, EMC, PepsiCo and RDJ Solicitors. These events are the first of their kind in Ireland.
We decided to create the Networking Evening because we are all about connecting: connecting funds, connecting people, and building something fantastic. Bringing bright minds from the USA together with the bright minds of Ireland creates an arena for action.
The most recent Global Entrepreneurship Model (GEM) report states that women are 5 times more likely to set up their own business as a result of meeting other women entrepreneurs. 5 times. Isn’t that a startling number? Once again, Cork Foundation has identified a need and we are offering an outlet for important conversations to take place.
The upcoming events will bring the type of positivity and possibility we like to see to our Rebel County. It will help foster the entrepreneurial spirit and draw global attention to the importance of local enterprise.
Although July 30 is another step in the right direction, there is so much more that needs to be done as we work towards a brighter tomorrow for Cork. We are always accepting donations and are always open to new ideas and collaborations. We love meeting new people so If you like what we stand for and want to help us on our mission; I encourage you to contact us. Let’s have a chat, let’s make a plan, let’s change the world. I think Cork is the perfect place to start.
Heather McGuire is CEO of the Cork Foundation, a not for profit organisations creating opportunities and jobs in Cork. For more information go to www.corkfoundation.com