The programme, which commenced in 2017, is made up of two cycles; starting and growing.

Female entrepreneurs are in high demand in Ireland’s northwest region as applications for the Empower Programme have been extended to Friday 29 May 2020 following the outbreak of Covid-19.  

The Empower Programme is a new programme for start-ups targeting female entrepreneurs and addresses specific challenges that hinder females and will help to fast track female-led businesses.

Starting and growing

The programme, which commenced in 2017, is made up of two cycles; starting and growing. It is funded by the Department of Justice and Equality and the European Social Fund and participants only require access to a PC or laptop and have good broadband.

“The Empower Programme is helping so many women build confidence, assess skills to implement ideas or scale businesses, and deliver market opportunities”

The starting cycle is for women with a business idea or those who have been in business for less than a year. The growing cycle is aimed at women who have been in business for over 18 months and focuses on helping women scale their business. The exact topics for each module are based on a needs assessment of each group allowing for a course that is as unique as the women taking part.

Selected participants will engage online in group discussions and in one-to-one mentoring sessions. Role models will also be introduced along with new modules on Leadership and Sales.

“Women’s participation in the economy is vital if we are to get the economy on track again especially after the Covid-19 pandemic”

The programme was initially run by GMIT Innovation hub and focused on Galway, Mayo and Roscommon. Due to its success, funding has now been allocated to expand the programme to the North West in conjunction with LYIT, CoLab, and IT Sligo.

“The Empower Programme is helping so many women build confidence, assess skills to implement ideas or scale businesses, and deliver market opportunities,” said Maria Staunton, the programme manager. “Over 64 women in the West have completed the programme since 2017 and 146 people are currently employed by the businesses full-time and another seven part-time.

“Bringing more women entrepreneurs into the economy will help improve economic growth and stability”

Labour force participation rates for women in Ireland remain low by international standards despite rising wages and more career opportunities and the programme aims to help redress that imbalance.

“CSO figures indicate that while the gender differential in the participation rates between men and women here is falling, it remains wide – 68.4 per cent for men compared to 56 per cent for women even though women make up over 50 per cent of the population.

“Women’s participation in the economy is vital if we are to get the economy on track again especially after the Covid-19 pandemic. In Ireland, female-led businesses remain an underdeveloped source of economic growth and jobs,” she added.

“As part of a drive to increase the number of female entrepreneurs in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon, GMIT Innovation Hubs set out in 2017 to increase participation with the launch of Empower, expanding to Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal in the past year. Bringing more women entrepreneurs into the economy will help improve economic growth and stability and is particularly needed in the rural and peripheral West and North-West of Ireland,” she concluded.

The Empower Programme is funded by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund as part of the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020.

By Stephen Larkin

Published: 18 May, 2020

Recommended