As part of a drive to increase the number of female entrepreneurs in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon, GMIT Innovation Hubs have commenced a second cycle of their regional programme for women entrepreneurs called "EMPOWER".
The programme, co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund as part of the ‘Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020', aims to fast-track female-led businesses by addressing specific challenges.
According to Maria Staunton, Manager of GMIT’s Mayo iHub and the EMPOWER programme:
“The programme has proven that there is lots of demand from females looking to start their own business. Last year we had 90 women applying for Cycle 1 and 80 women this year for Cycle 2. I really believe female-led businesses are an under-exploited source for economic growth and jobs.
“There are lots of different issues which can influence an individual’s decision to participate in part-time, full-time or self-employment but there are two major issues which are less about choice and more about deterrents. These include childcare issues and personal tax policy decisions which influence a female returning to the workforce.
“Setting up businesses for women can often be about employing themselves and finding a good work life balance. Looking for investment is often not the top priority. Women often benefit more from support networks and mentoring which the EMPOWER programme addresses. Through EMPOWER, GMIT aims to further decrease this gap by delivering a valuable programme that will benefit and support female entrepreneurs in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon”.
The EMPOWER programme helps identify market opportunities, build confidence and assess skills to implement ideas or scale businesses and is supported by The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs ) in Mayo, Galway and Roscommon.
Some EMPOWER participants to date include Lorraine Corcoran, Cosmetic Creations, Niamh Ryle, Homecheck, Mary Corrigan, Noo Chocolates, Elaine Kennedy, Hawthorn Handmade Skincare, Michelle Malone, thatssoshellyfitness, Catherine O’ Grady Power, Glenkeen Farm, Louise Gibbons, Inspire Learning, and Anne Byrne, Garden Design.
Rachel Dubber of Cycle 1 of EMPOWER Start who has just launched her new line of M’asal Beag Dubh, 100% natural cotton aprons www.racheldubber.com commented: “The Empower Programme reawakened my confidence. It gave me a clearer vision in my business and great guidelines to follow in order to improve it, I loved the course and the amazing women on it. The Empower programme is a great learning and support network. We encourage each other and form lasting friendships. It was an amazing journey learning what others see and think about you and your business, it removes the wool from your eyes if you are willing to listen and learn.”
The GMIT iHubs, established in 2005/6 in the Galway and Mayo campuses, provide entrepreneurs with office space, mentoring, business development supports, and streamlined access to GMIT’s Research and Development capacities. The iHubs offer office space, desk space, virtual space (for those who want a business address and use of boardroom ) and also co-working space (those who want to commute to Dublin but live in the West ). For more information contact 094-9043198 or check out http://www.gmit.ie/gmit-innovation-hubs