On 7th December, participants of the first “Illuminate” Female Entrepreneurship Programme run by The Mill Enterprise Hub and DCU Ryan Academy, pitched their businesses to a panel of judges at Coca-Cola International Services Headquarters in Drogheda.
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 was 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 Jennifer McEvoy Brennan, Supply Management Director at The Coca-Cola Company’s Europe, Africa and Asia Hub, “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 judging panel included Jennifer Brennan of Coca-Cola International Services, Sarita Johnston of Enterprise Ireland, Amanda Murphy from AIB, and Eoghan Stack of DCU Ryan Academy. The judges heard from entrepreneurs from myriad sectors including internet marketing, hand-crafted aromatherapy products, childrens’ cooking kits, and energy-saving services. The motive behind the ‘fake’ €50,000 pitch is to encourage the female entrepreneurs to focus on scaling their business, either with financial or mentoring support of €50,000.
The Illuminate Programme commenced in October 2015, with sixteen participants attending the first day of the course. 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. The programme fast-tracks female led businesses to develop their business and leadership skills, achieve scale, and create employment. 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.
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. 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.