EMPOWER, the women’s entrepreneurship programme delivered in GMIT’s Innovation Hubs

Participants on the EMPOWER Growth programme at GMIT.

EMPOWER, the women’s entrepreneurship programme delivered in GMIT’s Innovation Hubs to women in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon, has been allocated over €300,000 in funding in late 2019 to extend delivery of the successful programme to counties Sligo, Donegal and Leitrim. A total of over €600,000 has now been allocated to this Programme since it first commenced back in 2017.

The funding is part of an overall €1.5m budget allocation to promote gender equality and migrant integration announced in October 2019 by the Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan and David Stanton, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality with responsibility for Integration, Immigration and Equality), for a total of five female entrepreneurship projects providers (EMPOWER being one) across the country. 

EMPOWER is currently delivered in the west of Ireland by GMIT iHubs and is managed by Maria Staunton who says: “This new funding will mean that EMPOWER will be able to increase its footprint to include Sligo, Donegal and Leitrim. It means we can now also deliver this innovative programme to women through our partners institutes in the Connacht Ulster Alliance (CUA) - IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT.

“We set up EMPOWER back in 2017 in response to demand in the region and have since been inundated with requests from women seeking to undertake this programme. Sixty-four businesses have been set up by women who completed the course. 146 people are employed full-time in these businesses and seven part-time. 94% of the programme participants have a third level qualification. We therefore decided to resubmit another application for EMPOWER and were awarded with the funding. We are looking forward to rolling it out to women from the three additional counties.”

The EMPOWER Programme has two components. “EMPOWER Start” is designed to test innovative ideas for market acceptance. It is for females with an early stage idea or in business less than one year.
This free programme is delivered part-time over 12 weeks by start-up experts. This allows participants to balance their family commitments while at the same time planning and developing their new business. The current programme rotates between Galway, Mayo and Roscommon, and now is set to extend to Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal. Learning is classroom based. The opportunity is to test start up idea(s) for customer acceptance.
EMPOWER Growth is focused on women who are already in business (2 years +) and are now looking to scale and grow by providing support from peers, mentors and role models. The programme will be based on peer to peer learning and delivered by industry experts. It has been delivered over 11 half days on Saturday, once a month.

The EMPOWER Programme has recently set up a research project as part of the Programme to explore themes in relation to female entrepreneurship. This will help to steer future programmes in the area of female entrepreneurship, understanding the gaps and highlighting where future support is needed.
This project is co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund as part of the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020. To find out more information check out; Facebook:  or