Want to learn how to fast-track your business idea? Applications for EMPOWER are being accepted up to 29th May.

The Empower Programme is a new programme for start-ups targeted at female entrepreneurs from the West and North West of Ireland.

This programme addresses specific challenges that hinder females and will help to fast track female-led businesses.

The programme, which commenced in 2017, is made up of two cycles, Start and Growth. The start cycle is for women with a business idea or those who have been in business for less than a year.

The growth cycle is for women who have been in business for 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.

The programme was initially run by GMIT Innovation hubs and focused on Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.

Due to its success funding has now been allocated to expand this programme to the North West in conjunction with LYIT, CoLab, and IT Sligo.

Applications are being accepted until Friday 29th May for the Growth phase of the programme which will be delivered online from June due to COVID-19 restrictions. For further information and to apply visit empowerher.ie


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.

Maria Staunton (EMPOWER Programme Coordinator)

Maria Staunton, EMPOWER Programme Manager, says: “The EMPOWER Programme is helping so many women build confidence, assess skills to implement ideas or scale businesses, and deliver market opportunities. 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.

“Labour force participation rates for women in Ireland remain low by international standards despite rising wages and more career opportunities and this EMPOWER programme aims to help redress that imbalance” explains Ms Staunton.

“Women’s participation in the economy is vital if we are to get the economy on track again”

“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.”

“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.”

“The women I have worked with on this programme have shown tenacity and determination to get their business up and running. Whilst I have observed high levels of ambition some lack confidence and have low perceptions of capability. Sometimes aversion to debt and a conservative approach to risk-taking can hamper ambition.

“Often entrepreneurship is seen as providing more flexibility for women, however work-life balance remains a challenge, particularly so during this COVID-19 lockdown. The ‘guilt’ factor often comes into play amongst women as they spend time on their business whilst having other responsibilities.

“They face numerous challenges in terms of work-life balance something which shouldn’t and cannot be overlooked by policy makers. Women often choose self-employment for lifestyle reasons, particularly when the children are young, while men, to a larger extent, are driven by pecuniary motives”.

“Women are paving the way for future entrepreneurs”

“One interesting observation is that these women are paving the way for future entrepreneurs. I often remark that female founders teach their children (boys and girls) all about entrepreneurship as they often have to have the kids beside them when on telephone calls or have to bring them to meetings.

“One person on the programme even brought her four-week old son along on some occasions as she was breastfeeding him.”

“I know some who involve their kids in helping to pack orders. One person on the programme even brought her four-week old son along on some occasions as she was breastfeeding him. It’s important for us on the programme to ensure there are no barriers put in place.

“In the future the bigger impact – apart from job creation – may be the impression they leave on their children. We talk about implementing entrepreneurship in schools but what better way to learn about entrepreneurship than listening to and being involved with your parents on topics such as new ideas, ordering stock, money, etc. This might be the bigger impact supporting women entrepreneurs has on the economy”, adds Ms Staunton.

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. The Local Enterprise Offices are also very supportive of the programme locally.

All participants will need to have access to a device (PC or laptop) and have good broadband.

For more information about the programme see EMPOWERHer.ie and www.facebook.com/empowerher.ie Applications are available on the home page of www.empowerher.ie or @Empowerherie and Instagram Page empowerher.ie