Exciting new opportunities for up to 150 Gaeltacht women to start their entrepreneurial journey with the EMPOWER Cumasú programme

3 May, 2024

min read

Seoladh Cumasú; Dara Calleary, TD, An tAire Stáit do Chur Chun Cinn na Trádála, Cúrsaí Digiteacha agus Rialú Cuideachtaí, , Tomás Ó Síocháin, Príomhfheidhmeannach Údarás na Gaeltachta, Orla Flynn, Uachtarán OTA agus foireann Údarás na Gaeltachta

A brand new programme for Gaeltacht female entrepreneurs was launched today (03/05/2024) which over a three year period will give encouragement and opportunity to 150 Gaeltacht women to start their entrepreneurial journey.

The CUMASÚ Program has been initiated and funded by Údarás na Gaeltachta and is being run on the successful EMPOWER model by Atlantic Technological University (ATU) Innovation Hubs and the Munster Technological University (MTU) Rubicon Centre in collaboration with Údarás na Gaeltachta and the gteic network of digital and innovation hubs.

This is the first time that a program of its kind is being provided on a national level in the Gaeltacht and applications are currently being sought from women in the Gaeltacht areas of Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Kerry, Cork, Waterford and Meath.

Dara Calleary, TD, Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, officially launched the program in An Spidéal in Conamara today (03/05/2024) in association with Tomás Ó Síocháin, Chief Executive of Údarás na Gaeltachta, Dr. Orla Flynn, President of ATU and Professor Maggie Cusack, President of MTU.

At an event that was thronged with female entrepreneurs, businesses, educators and enterprise and rural development organizations, an insight was given into the personal development and business growth opportunities that will be provided to course participants.

In addition, there was a significant virtual attendance of the event via live streaming through the gteic network of Gaeltacht digital and innovation hubs. Launch and registration events were held in gteic hub centers in Béal Átha an Ghaorthaidh, Co. Cork, Béal an Mhuirthead, Mayo, Gaoth Dobhair, Carrig Airt and An Tearmann in Donegal and Inis Meáin in Co. Galway.

The gteic network of innovation and digital hubs developed by Údarás na Gaeltachta throughout the Gaeltacht will be central to the delivery of the Cumasú program where participants will have the opportunity to complete the course at a gteic hub in their own area. The program aims to promote and fast-track female entrepreneurship and the ATU Innovation Hub in Galway/Mayo and the MTU Rubicon Centre in Cork both have vast experience delivering entrepreneurship programmes in particular female entrepreneurship programmes. This is the first time they are partnering on such an initiative.

Dara Calleary, TD, Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation in launching the programme said “This Programme provides women in rural Gaeltacht areas with an opportunity to systematically develop their business opinion and to receive supports from the ATU, MTU, Údarás na Gaeltachta and the gteic network to finalise their plans.”

Tomás Ó Síocháin, Chief Executive of Údarás na Gaeltachta said: “Creating opportunities for underrepresented groups in entrepreneurship is a key priority for Údarás na Gaeltachta and is vital to ensure that we draw on the often-untapped talent among a huge swathe of the population. Cumasú is the first step, we hope of many, for female entrepreneurs and Údarás is working on the next steps for those entrepreneurs as they seek to bring novel ideas to life. In doing so, this will often solve problems in their community, create local, sustainable employment and over time develop a cohort that will create business that can seek to capture part of a global market.”

Orla Flynn, President of ATU says: “I’m delighted that ATU is again partnering with Údarás na Gaeltachta to support female entrepreneurship in the Gaeltacht regions, building on our successful pilot programme last year. I’m especially pleased that this year the partnership also includes the Rubicon in MTU, themselves no strangers to supporting female entrepreneurship. Together we will be supporting all Gaeltacht regions of Ireland, across Donegal, Galway, Mayo, Kerry, Cork, Waterford and Meath. Ní neart go cur le Chéile!”

At the launch event Clíona Standún, being the third-generation in the family business, spoke about how she took over the business at the age of 26 and has been running it with her sister for the last 14 years. Standúns now employs 25 people and is a recognised brand nationally and internationally.

Tríona Nic Giolla Rí outlined how she set up her business Aró with her partner Alan Rowe back in 1996. The company works with hotels nationally and international on their digital strategies and websites. Tríona talked about the support received from Údarás and how they have gone on to grow their business to now employ over 25 people in the Galway Gaeltacht.

In giving a practical example of the benefits of the Cumasú programme five female founders from last year’s pilot programme also shared their experience – Margaret Leahy from Fable Tours, Siobhan Leahy from White Rose Creations, Elaine Dunne from Gifts le Grá, Letitita Hill (artist and jewellery maker) and Emily Lavelle (Irish Food and Culture Experiences). All five female founders pitched their start-ups to the assembled in person and online audience.

Maria Staunton, EMPOWER at ATU, says “It’s great to see so much interest in this programme. Last year we ran the EMPOWER Cumasú Programme with 13 females engaging in the Start Programme. Following the success of that, we went on to bring the rest of the EMPOWER Programme to the wider regions of the Gaeltacht across Ireland. We are hoping to attract over 150 females onto the EMPOWER Cumasú Programme over the next three years and we are looking forward to partnering also with the Rubicon Centre at MTU in Cork and watching more female businesses develop and grow in our rural regions. Also, the support we have received from the female founders already based in the Gaeltacht areas has been wonderful to see. Role models are an especially important part of the programme which we have built up over the last seven years on EMPOWER.”

Women living in the Gaeltacht or looking or having set up their businesses in the Gaeltacht areas are encouraged to log onto www.empowerprogramme.ie to apply for the programme. Places are limited and early application is recommended and further information is available by contacting ATU iHub Mayo on empower.galwaymayo@atu.ie.