With six women contesting 8 major categories last night at Network Ireland Business Woman of the Year Awards in Cork, last night, there was a sizable presence of Kildare members at the event. When Noreen Doyle, of the Irish Biltong Co was announced winner of the Small SME award, suffice to say, Kildare cheers raised the roof!
Noreen is CEO of the Irish Biltong Company, a mother of four who has successfully created a strong market awareness of her company and its beef snacks. Having appeared on Dragon's Den, Noreen took a brave step and turned down two offers no less, from the Dragons who wanted a bigger slice of the company than she was prepared to give for their €100,000 investment.
“With the coverage on Dragon's Den, there was a spin off interest and we secured the funding thereafter to upscale and grow the business” said Noreen. “We now have a standalone unit where everything is manufactured inhouse from start to finish, using only locally sourced Irish grass fed beef.”
President Emma Murphy and Pauline Forde of Network Ireland Kildare branch at last night's Gala Ball in Cork
Noreen's marketing and promotion of her company impressed the judges at this year's Kildare Business Woman of the Year awards. “Being a small business, we didn't have a big marketing budget so therefore, I used whatever tools were available – and for me, that meant promoting hugely through social media. We also engage with some of the higher end sports individuals and athletes. Currently, we work with our ambassadors, David Kilcoyne (rugby) and Shane Lowry (golf).”
Clearly, Noreen's belief in the company product and it's ability to grow, encouraged her to hold firm and reject the Dragons' offers, something she hasn't regretted.
Noreen is married to John Doyle, and twice the couple were faced with the shocking news that two of their children, James and Kate, were diagnosed with a rare type of leukaemia.
Noreen and daughter Kate in 2017, happily Kate is fully recovered now
Eleven years ago, James was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) but was successfully treated at Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin and now he's a a healthy secondary school student. In April 2017, the youngest member of the family, Kate, was also diagnosed with ALL - two weeks before her first communion. Happily, both children are recovered and doing well, along with siblings Adam and Alison. Noreen and John also find time to support many charities and projects, despite their demanding business roles.
Noreen was joined at last night by five more Kildare women: Anita Meenahan (Mangan's Pharmacy), Jill O'Meara (Jill O'Meara Photography), Eileen Keane (Monread CRM), Margaret Mary McGrath (Kerry Group) and Jane Asple from Emma by Jane at Network Ireland Gala Ball in Celtic Ross Hotel, Cork where the network's annual Business Woman of the Year Awards. This is an incredible testament to the success of the Kildare network branch, led by President Emma Murphy. Network Ireland Kildare is supported by media Partners, Kildare Post and KildareNow, AIB and the Local Enterprise Office.
Congratulations and well done to the Kildare finalists, what ambassadors for women in business. They are photographed above with committee members and supporters from the Kildare Branch.