Co Antrim gym owner on boost from being involved in local female business network

Andrea Kernohan and members of her gym BeFIT Personal Training in Larne
-Credit: (Image: Submitted)


A business owner in Co Antrim has spoken of the personal and professional boost she's noticed since joining a local female business network. Andrea Kernohan started her female gym BeFIT Personal Training in Larne in 2006 on a mission to empower women to discover their healthiest and happiest selves through exercise.

In September 2023, Andrea joined Enterprising Women, which is a dedicated female network in the Mid and East Antrim Area supporting new and established female entrepreneurs in the local area. Managed by Carrickfergus Enterprise and Ballymena Business Centre, and with funding provided by the MEA Council, it provides networking opportunities and workshops for local women who have started a business or intend to.

Despite having 17 years of business experience before joining the network last year, Andrea said she's noticed a boost both personally and professionally, and hasn't looked back since joining. The group organises a series of workshops and training events which she says have helped her develop and grow her business.

Read more: Women’s Aid and blind golf group among projects sharing National Lottery cash

Read more: The 'life changing' Belfast group supporting women through menopause

Speaking to Belfast Live, Andrea said: "Being involved in Enterprising Women helps me get my business out there a lot more and helps me with things I'm struggling with in business. It's great to have that community of people you can reach out to if you need a wee bit of help.

"If you're just starting out in business, joining the network would be a great boost. The information you get would be a great help.

"Everyone's there to support and help you. I had been in business for nearly 17 years before I reached out, and I'm still finding it so useful, and still learning through all the workshops and from other members who are in different businesses.

"My skills and confidence have improved, particularly through insightful workshops on photography, and participating in enriching events like the International Women's Day event in conjunction with Donegal Women in Business.

"Every experience has been a catalyst for growth and connection, most recently at the Spring Get Together & Showcase which elevated the visibility and reach of my business, seeing real tangible results securing sign-ups for my gym. I am proud to be a member of Enterprising Women, where collaboration and empowerment are not merely ideals but the driving forces behind our collective success."

Many members of the network have become friends, with Andrea saying members have joined her female gym, and she has made an effort to support their businesses too.

She added: "It has been a great way to meet friends. I've met so many people that live in the local area, being involved makes you want to use their businesses more and vice versa.

"We chat to so many different women from different businesses and are able to talk about what our struggles in business are, and what extra help we need. Being involved has been invaluable."

Since Enterprising Women began in 2018, membership has increased to 229 members, with 87 of these members joining within the last 12 months alone. Among its members, 26% are start-ups, while an equal percentage have been established within the past two or three years.

A sizeable portion of 36% boast a more seasoned presence in the business landscape, operating for 13 to 14 years. This rich mix of businesses reflects the dynamic entrepreneurial spirit thriving in the area.

Speaking on the success of the programme, Kelli McRoberts, Chief Executive at Carrickfergus Enterprise, said: "Our network is built on the principle of women supporting women, creating a community where members can connect, collaborate, and uplift one another.

"By fostering a supportive environment, we not only empower individual members but also contribute to a larger ripple effect within families and communities. Women who feel supported and empowered in their professional endeavours become role models for their families, inspiring future generations and contributing positively to the wider community.

"We are proud to be part of this domino effect of empowerment, where each woman's success and growth contribute to a larger movement of progress and change. By prioritising personal development, networking, and community engagement, we aim to create a more inclusive and supportive environment where all women can thrive and succeed."

To find out more about Carrickfergus Enterprise, email: info@ceal.co.uk

For all the latest news, visit the Belfast Live homepage here and sign up to our daily newsletter here.