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Speaker programme for National Womens Enterprise Day 2013  

Kathleen Lynch T.D., Minister for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People

 lynch_kathleen Appointed Minister of State for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People in the Department of Health and Department of Justice, Equality and Defence, 10th March 2011.  Minister Lynch was elected to Cork Corporation in 1985 and first elected to Dail Eireann in 1994.  She was subsequently elected again in 2002 and has retained her seat since.
Minister Lynch was a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health, 2007, Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights 2002-2007 and member of Joint Committee on Enterprise and Small Business, 2002-May 2006.  She is married with four children.

Eleanor McEvoy, Budget Energy


Eleanor McEvoy, Budget Energy, is the newest entrant into the Northern Ireland electricity supply market.  Eleanor has successfully built and sold two previous businesses to date: Pembroke Distributors which sold in 2001, a food distribution and vending company and Phonecard Warehouse which was a successful reseller of mobile phone top ups.  At the time Phonecard Warehouse was sold in 2006 it had a net turnover of €50million.  Eleanor's latest venture, Budget Energy, is shaping up to be a serious player in the Northern Ireland market taking a fresh approach to an old industry.  Budget Energy got a license to operate within Northern Ireland in December 2010.  The company supplies electricity to domestic and commercial customers and, since going live in July 2011, has acquired more than 25,000 customers.


The strategy based on offering straight forward tariffs and no hidden charges is proving to be a winning formula resulting in a steady increase in new customer numbers month on month.  Plans are well underway to give the same offering to the Southern Ireland market by year end.  Budget Energy has negotiated power purchase agreements to obtain energy from a number of anaerobic digesters and wind farms operated by the farming community.

In May 2013 Eleanor was announced as  finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Programme for 2013.  The company plans to continue to pursue its strategy for green energy, and achieve 20% green electricty by the end of this year.

Ramona Nicholas, Cara Pharmacy and Dragons' Den 2013

 From the tender age of 11, Ramona Nicholas (nee Wylie) was determined that she would own her own Pharmacy in the future, and was driven by this goal troughout her teenage years to achieve success in every area of her life. While many of her peers were enjoying their time spent at school, Ramona was extremely focused and relentless in her drive to achieve her goals, through hard work, dedication and commitment.Ramona 1

Ramona grew up in a small village in Co Tyrone-Ardboe, and attended St Patrick’s Girls Academy Grammar School in Dungannon, where she achieved 3 A’s in her A-Levels allowing her to progress to Queens University in Belfast where she studied Pharmacy for three years, before qualifying as a Pharmacist in 1999.
Entrepreneurship has been a trait Ramona has demonstrated from her early childhood. She funded her Pharmacy Degree by providing Piano lessons every Saturday and giving coaching sessions to undergrads. She began investing in the property market at just 20 years of age, the profits from the sale of her first home was used to part finance the purchase of her first business, which she acquired at the age of 24. 
Upon qualifying as a Pharmacist at 21, Ramona moved to Dublin as she had researched and was very aware that the Pharmacy Industry was much more lucrative in ROI V NI. She managed a Pharmacy in Coolock with a turnover of 4million punt at the time, and a team of 25 employees, for three years, before deciding that she had learnt enough about the Industry and was ready to take on the challenge of her own business. Ramona moved to Co. Donegal 12 years ago and now resides in Bundoran, with her husband and 3 ½ year old son, Alex.
Ramona set up the company Cara Pharmacy in September 2002, with her now husband Canice, and the business experienced an extensive expansion phase through organic growth and acquisition very rapidly. The group now owns 15 businesses - 12 Pharmacies, with a turnover 24.6M and CARA HOME, three stores which are already trading extremely well despite the Brand age profile of less than 12 months.  This brand alone has future plans for expansion into greenfield sites throughout the nation, as does Cara Pharmacy.
The Company has achieved numerous awards over the last number of years, to include the accolade of a ‘Deloitte Best Managed Company 2012’, an award which involves a rigorous process of assessing the business in many areas to include Strategy, Financials, Growth and Sustainability and Return on Investment. The company is set to requalify in 2013. As well as this major accolade, the company this year, was selected in the Final 3 Companies in Ireland in the REI Company of the Year Award, under the category of Industry Leaders, the Final 3 in e-Commerce under the category of Innovation and a personal award for one of their team members. Their store in Cavan has also been awarded ‘Retail Store of the Year 2012’ in the Cavan and Tourism Awards. All of this has been spearheaded by Ramona.
Ramona first graced our screens this year as the first Irish Female Entrepreneur on the RTE series, ‘The Secret Millionaire’ which saw her go undercover in Galway to help the homeless, recovering addicts, and families affected by Autism. A modern day business woman, Ramona has an important role in the community, her businesses being commended for their corporate social responsibility policies and her own work within the local community in a voluntary capacity including event management and many other similar roles.
Ramona is extremely passionate about business and through hard work, ambition and dedication she has the unique ability and proven record in nurturing ideas to commercial successes which are shaping and driving the industry.  Her interest in people and the skill for spotting natural talent in people which when combined with her belief and support is without doubt her most endearing quality and has delivered the result of a motivated, passionate and loyal team.
A classic, self-made Entrepreneur, Ramona is not afraid to take chances and work to make these commercially fruitful successes. Ramona remains abreast of modern retail successes and takes a particular interest in online retailing and the role of social media in promoting modern day business. She is extremely competitive and will ensure that everything she puts her touch on becomes a success in every way.
Having invested and worked in many areas to include fast moving consumer goods, Luxury and High-end Retail, Home & Giftware, and many services to include Healthcare, Skincare and Dentistry, Ramona’s skillset is extremely diverse. Being a typical Gemini, Ramona loves the versatility of her job role, which has saw her excel in marketing and advertising, networking, entrepreneurship, e-commerce, wholesale distribution and much more.
Ramona has spent the last two years grooming the senior management team into roles which has allowed her to remove herself from the business to delve into other areas which she feels highly passionate about. Ramona regularly gives Public Speeches on the subject of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, to include Dundalk IT, Letterkenny IT and St Mary’s College in Derry.
A working mother herself, Ramona feels strongly about encouraging Female Entrepreneurship and the many ‘Balancing Act’ issues facing modern women today.
Ramona has the ability to turn ideas into successes, to take commercially viable ideas and turn them into industry leading business strategies and has a proven record that her skills combined with hard work and feverish enthusiasm can become industry leading practices.

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