Traveller women entrepreneurs not letting doom and gloom stop them

Don’t let the doom and gloom wear you down, this is the message being promoted by a group of Traveller women in Galway who are taking that advice to heart and striving forth in their bid to succeed in business and entrepreneurship.

The project Empowering Traveller Women Entrepreneurs, an initiative supported by the Galway Traveller Movement, was launched on Monday, December 5 in the Ballybane Enterprise Centre, and was attended by guest speaker Liz Cassidy, an EU Ambassador for Female Entrepreneurship.

The ETWE project provides supports to Traveller women entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs, and believes that the essence of entrepreneurship is an ability to look at the problems of the world and see opportunities.

“I believe that there is an entrepreneur in every woman,” says Bridget Kelly, who started her enterprise experience with her husband, and established Fantastic Fireplaces selling fireplaces and gates in Athenry. She is currently working as an enterprise worker in GTM and planning her next business venture as a specialist trainer. Ms Kelly continued: “In their daily life, women have to find opportunities where there are problems – being creative and adapting is what it is all about.”

Liz Cassidy of Irish Time Design agrees: “Women entrepreneurs have to overcome unique barriers such as lack of confidence and self belief, fear of failure, and juggling the demands of their business and personal lives. These barriers are not insurmountable because women are blessed with unique attributes such as resilience, focus and staying power.”

For Traveller women, these barriers are all the greater. ETWE believes that in every community there is work that needs doing - but in those same communities there are the people who can do that work. One of the most important things in ETWE was that the supports offered are practical, flexible, and developed by the Traveller women who participate in the programme. The training and supports are developed by the women, and driven by the participants. Each training session is designed and delivered (or co-facilitated ) by the participants with the trainers.

According to Joanna Corcoran, an ETWE participant: “The experience has given me the confidence to put my ideas into a successful working reality, and to me personally, it has given me the opportunity to do things that I always wanted to do but without ETWE would never have had the chance.”

This is but one of the initiatives developed by Galway Traveller Movement. GTM coordinator Margaret O’Riada explains that GTM has established a Traveller Enterprise Development Unit (TEDU ) which is developing social enterprises as well as supports for Traveller entrepreneurs - both male and female. “Our vision is that by 2020 the Traveller economy in Galway city and county will be flourishing. Travellers will be part of an ever widening range of innovative community businesses and private enterprises,” said Ms O’Riada.

The ETWE programme is funded under the Equality for Women Measure, and will run until the end of April 2012. It is supported by the European Social Fund (ESF ) under the Human Capital Investment Operational Programme and the Department of Justice and Equality. For more information contact Tanya Lalor in Galway Traveller Movement on 091 765 390.


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