Women in business attend ‘Spirit of Entrepreneurship’ gathering

As part of a drive to increase the number of female entrepreneurs in Roscommon, Galway and Mayo, Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT ) innovation hubs will deliver a second cycle of their regional programme called ‘EMPOWER’, commencing in October across the region.

Despite national recognition of female entrepreneurs, Ireland suffers from a low number of women engaged in business startups. Female led businesses remain an underdeveloped source of economic growth and jobs.

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.

Ensuring that women with start-up ideas realise their full business potential is a major priority for this programme. While Ireland has made much better advances in relation to female entrepreneurs over the last number of years and women in the workplace, the rate of women starting their own businesses is still below that of what is could be. The rate of entrepreneurship for women in Ireland is the seventh highest in Europe.

Maria Staunton Manager of the Empower Programme at GMIT sais, “during my time in GMIT’s innovation hubs, I recognised the gap in the number of female versus male entrepreneurs. We don’t have enough females coming forward to look at developing their ideas. I really believe female-led businesses are an underexploited source for economic growth and jobs.”

At a recent event, Alison Cowzer from East Coast Bakehouse, Vicki O’Toole from J.J. O’ Toole and Donna Kennedy, best selling author and speaker, took to the stage to talk about their own experiences and how they built their businesses. Alison discussed how they have grown a biscuit making operation in Drogheda, managing Brexit challenges, being a Dragon on RTE’s Dragons Den, what skills to look for in a promoter and key areas in a business proposition.

Vicki touched on being propelled into the position of MD in a family business when her husband passed away, not understanding the ins and outs of business, but yet having to learn very quickly and growing that 100 year old packaging business to the €10 million turnover that it is today. She is currently a finalist in this year’s E&Y finals in October.

Donna talked about her own experiences and challenges she faced and how she overcame those challenges to go on to turn her life around to the success it is today. She is a bestselling author, business and life coach and speaker.

The theme of the evening was ‘Discovering your True Passion and Purpose’ with Carol Coleman the MC for the evening. Later that evening, Norah Patten (aeronautical engineer ) Aine Mulloy (founder of Crewgirl ) and Lorraine Corcoran (Co-Owner of Cosmetic Creations ) took to the stage. All three ladies are from the west.

Norah is on track to become Ireland’s first person to go into space. She is one of twelve participants from around the world selected to take part in a unique scientist-astronaut training programme in Florida and talked about things such as zero-gravity training flights and the hard work and dedication involved in this. Norah also has her own start up called Planet Zebunar which is all about inspiring and motivating the next generation of engineers, astronauts, scientists and innovators.

Aine talked about their networking concept called GirlCrew and how they developed and scaled the app gaining market traction in several countries with a base now in San Francisco. She also touched on obtaining and attracting investment and how best to do that, while Lorraine talked about buying Cosmetic Creations with her husband Aiden, their own interests in always developing new products and how they have grown that business to recruit additional employee numbers.

The GMIT iHubs are two innovation hubs based on the GMIT campuses of Galway and Mayo. The iHubs provide entrepreneurs with office space, mentoring, business development supports and streamlined access to GMIT’s research and development capacities, the supportive environment to progress business ideas from concept to commercial success. See http://www.gmit.ie/gmit-innovation-hubs.

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


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