Date Article Written: Monday, March 29, 2021
EMPOWER, the women’s entrepreneurship programme, is run by the GMIT iHubs, is now accepting applications for the next EMPOWER GROWTH programme. The EMPOWER Programme is free to participants and aims to fast track female-led businesses in the region. EMPOWER is funded by the Department of Justice and Equality and the European Social Fund.
There are two programmes; EMPOWER START for early stage ideas or businesses operating for less than 18 months, and EMPOWER GROWTH for females with established businesses looking to growth and scale their enterprise.
Sandra Divilly Nolan, EMPOWER Programme Manager, says: “Running your own business can be a lonely journey. EMPOWER GROWTH brings like-minded people together who all have a shared goal; to grow and scale their business. A core element of the programme is the peer to peer learning where the business owners share ideas and knowledge and support each other to identify opportunities to grow their business and find solutions to overcome barriers to progress.”
The current EMPOWER GROWTH 2020 participants, have celebrated many milestones since commencing the programme in July 2020; these include a business model pivot to access a new international market (USA), treble digit sales growth which provided funds to recruit and expand the team, the development of new product and service concept which lead to winning a national prize fund. Through sharing knowledge and encouraging each other, many of the participants have achieved national media exposure through television, press, social media and radio to promote their business. If you would like to hear what the current participants have to say about their experience on the EMPOWER GROWTH programme visit the EMPOWERHer Instagram page and view the new series of one minute video clips where the current participants tell you why they applied and what value they received from the programme.
“Another element of the programme is the one to one mentoring sessions. As a business owner it can be difficult to find time to step back from the day to day operations of the business and make strategic decisions. The mentoring sessions, invite these female entrepreneurs to allocate this time, to ‘step back and look in from the outside’ and be guided through the decision making process by an experienced mentor with a fresh outlook” says Sandra Divilly Nolan.
The EMPOWER team also work closely and are supported by the Local Enterprise Offices. They encourage the participants to avail of the specialized training and tailored mentoring services the LEO offices provide in their area. Through the CUA partnership, the participants are also encouraged to avail of the research facilities and supports provided at the GMIT, IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT and other government supports available to SMEs in the region. Sandra Divilly Nolan, EMPOWER Programme Manager, says: “This year we were delighted to work in conjunction with the GMIT Marketing Department to offer the EMPOWER business owners the opportunity to be assigned a 3rd or 4th year student to complete an assignment on their business in the areas of social media, marketing research, branding and developing a marketing plan.”
Throughout the programme guests speakers attend the group sessions to talk on a specific topic or to share the story of their business journey. These session are intended to inform and inspire the participants and offer them a chance to ask specific questions.
Artist Rita Oates and owner of ETL Crafts & Giftware based in Roscommon applied and secured a place on the GROWTH2020 programme. Rita applied to the programme to support her to grow her business through developing a new brand Rita Oates Artist. Through the support of EMPOWER and the Roscommon LEO, Rita set up an e-commerce business www.ritaoatesartist.ie and has reached an international market selling her greeting cards, art and silk scarves. Rita recommends that business owners apply for the next GROWTH programme stating “I cannot express the value of this programme and the pool of experience and diversity to draw from. It has enriched every step of my journey in creating Rita Oates Artist as a brand.”
The next EMPOWER GROWTH programme will run from June 2021 to April 2022. The programme is delivered on a Saturday, once per month. Due to Covid restrictions the programme is planned to be delivered online until such a time as in person meetings are permitted.
The closing date for applications is Friday, 30th April, at 12 noon. Apply online at www.empowerher.ie For further information on EMPOWER visit the website and get involved in the Empower Community through the EMPOWER social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.