Date Article Written: Thursday, September 24, 2020
A question “How has your mindset changed since the pandemic?” put to attendees at the recent EMPOWER and Spirit of Entrepreneurship webinar hosted by GMIT Mayo iHub reveals a surprising variety of positive responses.
Sandra Divilly, EMPOWER Female Entrepreneurship Programme Manager, GMIT iHub, says: “Despite the disruption and significant challenges businesses have faced this year, the energy and positively shared by the speakers and over 200 attendees at the event was contagious. Female entrepreneurs in Ireland are embracing the changes and using this time to upskill, reflect, change direction and seize new opportunities.”
“The pandemic has given people an opportunity to reflect on their life and career. Attendees commented that working from home has created more balance between their work and home lives. Many have upskilled, embracing the online learning opportunities.”
“Some of the comments included:
– “It has opened me to new ways of working that really work!!”.
-“The pandemic gave me the time to look at new opportunities to diversify my business and I also availed of a lot of online training to upskill. It has certainly made me more resilient and confident to change my business.”
-“The pandemic has allowed me to take a step back and focus on what’s been working in the business and what needs to change”.
-“I definitely became more resilient and a total mindset change around the value of technology”.
Sandra Divilly adds: “Most of the respondents were keeping positive. Just 6% of respondents admitted to feeling more worried or stressed since the Covid 19 pandemic. 16% stated they were now in a position where they were more confident, whether it be starting a new business or pursuing a certain path in their own career. One participant said – “I feel more anxious but less fearful! Life is short and things can change quickly – it makes me want to seize the day.”
“The GMIT innovation hubs in Galway and Mayo have seen an increase in enquiries for the use of their facilities since the pandemic, in particular remote working facilities. Both were recently awarded funding through the Atlantic Economic Corridor to invest in new technology to aid remote working at their premises.”
“We have seen many examples of businesses which have successfully pivoted during the pandemic. There is an appetite for starting up new businesses and for established businesses to scale and grow. This is evident by the significant increase in the number of applications for this year’s EMPOWER GROWTH and START female entrepreneurship programmes which saw a 118% increase in applications this summer.”
The 8 September online webinar was opened by GMIT President Dr Orla Flynn. Susan Hayes Culleton, MC, led the panel discussion on business scaling with Mary McKenna (Awaken Hub), Lorraine Heskin (Gourmet Food Parlour) and Niamh McKenna (Change X). The key takeaways were: the importance of passion, culture and determination in managing your business; confidence, resilience and courage; “leap and a net will form”; the importance of tapping into the expertise of others and building a network; happy employees sell; and, most start-ups pivot.
A recording of the full event and the data collected are available on the Empowerher.ie website. https://www.empowerher.ie/. Two short video summaries of the scale discussion and influencer panel are available on the EmpowerHer.ie facebook page
The webinar was sponsored by the Mayo and Roscommon Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs).
Maria Staunton, GMIT iHub Mayo Manager, acknowledges the support given by the LEOs to the Event and also to businesses locally. “When respondents were asked ‘What help do you want from your LEO?”’ mentoring came through as the most important requirement. This was closely followed by training and events and financial supports. During these unusual times sometimes getting some mentoring and steering can help with the direction your business takes and helps in planning for the future.”
The EMPOWER programme is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Social Fund as part of the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020.