Women in the west respond to EMPOWER entrepreneurship call as two programmes commence

Places are filling up on the EMPOWER programme, less than a month since its launch in the Connacht Hotel, Galway.

Some 200 people attended the launch which was addressed by leading business women Breege O'Donohue, former director of Primark and chair of the Design & Craft Council of Ireland, Evelyn O'Toole, Complete Laboratory Solutions and Ernst & Young Finalist 2017, and Chanelle McCoy, Chanelle Pharmaceuticals and Dragon's Den.

Anne Walsh, CEO of Allergy Lifestyle, Mary Carty, co-founder of Outbox Incubator, and Hannah Kiely, CEO of Galway 2020, also talked about their experiences of starting up a business and challenges they faced along the way. Sports commentator and broadcaster Tracy Piggott MC'd for the evening.

"The EMPOWER programme has two components and has received a great response with both programme components under way with thirteen selected for the Growth Programme and over twenty for the Start Programme," says Maria Staunton, manager of the programme in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.

EMPOWER Start is designed to test innovative ideas for market acceptance. EMPOWER Start is for women with an early stage idea or in business less than a year. This free programme will be delivered part-time over 12 weeks by start-up experts. This allows participants to balance their family commitments while simultaneously planning and developing their new business. The programme rotates among Galway, Mayo, and Roscommon. Learning is classroom based. The opportunity is to test your idea for customer acceptance.

EMPOWER Growth is focused on women who are already in business (two years-plus ) and are now looking to scale and grow by providing support from peers, mentors, and role models. The programme will be based on peer to peer learning and delivered by industry experts. It will be given over 11 half days on Saturday, once a month.

Despite national recognition of female entrepreneurs, Ireland suffers from a lower number of women engaged in business start-ups. Female-led businesses remain an underdeveloped source of economic growth and jobs. As part of a drive to increase the number of female entrepreneurs in Galway, Mayo, and Roscommon, GMIT innovation hubs are set to deliver a new regional programme called EMPOWER, which has recently commenced in GMIT's Galway and Mayo campuses covering the west region.

Funded by the Department of Justice and Equality and the European Social Fund, the EMPOWER Programme aims to fast track female-led businesses by addressing specific challenges hindering their development. The EMPOWER Programme will help identify market opportunities, build confidence, and assess skills to implement ideas or scale businesses.

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