On March 13th, participants of the second “Illuminate” Female Entrepreneurship Programme run by The Mill Enterprise Hub and DCU Ryan Academy, pitched their businesses to a panel of judges from Enterprise Ireland, Meath LEO, and AIB. The Illuminate programme was created by The Mill Enterprise Hub, with assistance from DKIT and DCU, to empower early stage female entrepreneurs to develop and expand their business. The programme is supported by Coca-Cola International Services, AIB, and the Louth & Meath Local Enterprise Offices.
The judges commended the high quality of pitches, and according to Christine Meade “the ambition, and ability of the entrepreneurs is truly remarkable. It’s critical that female entrepreneurs are supported in taking the often difficult steps in growing a business. We’re delighted to have supported this initiative, and look forward to hearing of the futures success stories of the graduates”.
The Illuminate Programme commenced in January 2017, with thirteen participants. It is the second Illuminate programme to be delivered at The Mill, which has identified Female Entrepreneurship has one of its priority sectors. It delivers to early-stage female entrepreneurs from Louth and Meath, an opportunity to participate in the specially created Illuminate course, which is accredited by QQI (Quality & Qualifications Ireland) at Level 6, Minor Award. Participants are given the knowledge, skills and understanding to commercialise sustainable and profitable products by completing 12 study modules including Sales Strategy, Project Management, Business Risk Management, Sustaining & Growing Your Business, Marketing, and Leadership. Two graduates from the first programme continued to work with DCU Ryan Academy via the Enterprise Ireland supported programme, High Fliers.
The judging panel included Caroline Lynch from Meath LEO, Susan Cahill of Enterprise Ireland, Christine Meade from AIB, and Breanndán Casey of The Mill. The judges heard entrepreneurs from myriad sectors including business services, training, and technology firms. The motive behind the ‘fake’ €100,000 pitch is to encourage female entrepreneurs to focus on scaling their business, either with financial or mentoring support.
Breanndán Casey, Business Development Manager at The Mill Enterprise Hub, stated that “The feedback from participants has been exceptionally positive, and I’ve seen a huge transformation amongst the trainees over the past eight weeks. DCU Ryan Academy are the acknowledged experts in supporting female entrepreneurs, and it’s fantastic that local entrepreneurs can avail of the programme which is generously supported by local firms. I can see that their confidence levels, and focus, has increased sharply, with a number of entrepreneurs telling me that the course gave them an opportunity to step back from their day-to-day activities, and to carefully consider the long-term strategy and goals of their business, as part of the Business Model Canvas exercise”
Certificates of completion were presented to each participant at the Award Ceremony, and all trainees will attain full accreditation in the coming weeks when their Business Model Canvas is assessed.