The Empower Programme Review

Empower Her

“The Empower Programme is a new Female Entrepreneur Programme targeted at female entrepreneurs from Galway, Mayo and Roscommon. This programme plans to address specific challenges that hinder females and will help to fast track female-led businesses”

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.

My thoughts on The Empower Her Programme

It started with an application process. I applied using an application form that you can get by emailing this address:

Once I completed the form and sent it back I then I received an email to confirm that I had been accepted onto the Empower Her Start Programme. I was absolutely delighted but I was also terrified. I have no idea how to run a business and what if the other women taking part are all experts and I am found out to be a naïve business owner with really no idea what I am doing. What if I am embarrassed in front of a full room of female experts. The dreaded fear and negative thoughts that ran through my mind before commencing this programme however, I need not have worried.


My name is Shelly and I am the owner of That’s So Shelly Fitness. My business is a health & fitness business that offers personal training, group fitness classes and online coaching and I am based in Co.  Mayo. You can check out more about me and my business here:


This programme was delivered over 12 weeks and each week we were introduced to different guest speakers covering a variety of topics on running a business. They each educated us on starting and running our own businesses and covered different topics that made us think, work and develop ourselves as business women while we each focused on building a better foundation in each of our chosen careers. At the end of our 12 week coaching plan there was a selection made where 5 women pitched their businesses on the final day of the course in GMIT in front of 3 judges who were James Allen from Google. Sorcha O Grady from and Diane Nevin from Galway Business School


My first day arriving to the course I felt nervous, I didn’t know what to expect and I was not sure that me or my business warranted being there. My mind was put at ease almost immediately with the friendly welcome received on arrival. Maria Staunton the course facilitator has been and continues to be a massive support to me and my business. Day 1 on the course, a room full of amazing ladies and some guest speakers ready to fill us with knowledge to help us become better at what we do. The 21 other women on the course were all just as welcoming and even after the course has ended we have stayed in contact helping and supporting each other with monthly catch ups and coffee, it has been a fantastic programme that I am so happy to have been involved in.


Some of the topics covered throughout the programme were:

  • Lean Canvas
  • Market Research
  • Financials
  • Marketing & Sales
  • Presentation and Pitching
  • Networking
  • Pricing
  • Managing yourself

We were lucky enough to hear from John and Mary in  Anne Walsh from  Sandra Harte from Ailish Irvine from  Anna from Donnacha Hughes from Louise McDonnell from and Aisling Roache from to name a few.


As a woman in business I personally think we give ourselves a very hard time, we question our abilities and we doubt our talents. Confidence is for the already established.

We spend too much time and energy focusing on what we cannot do instead of focusing on what we can do and instead we should be reaching out to get the help in the areas of our businesses that we need help in. We seem to have a fear of being ‘found out’ to be an imposter in our chosen fields. What I have learned over the course of the programme is that there are people out there who want you to succeed. There are people out there who are willing to advise and support you. There are people out there who can point you in the direction you need to go and then show you how to get there.

I have certainly grown in confidence within myself and my business since completing this programme and I have learned valuable information that I would not have known about setting up, starting or running a business had I not completed this programme. This programme made me look at the direction my business was going in, it made me look at how far I have already come and it has made me look at how I am going to scale and grow my business in the future. After being announced the overall winner at the pitching competition on the final day of the programme was just the icing on the cake to me.

This programme has lead to connections with other amazing business women and has shown me the fantastic support systems that are available out there to startup businesses in Ireland like your for example. I would highly recommend this programme to any women who is either in the early stages of setting up their own business or just starting out with a business idea that they need some guidance on.

This programme offers simple and easy to follow advice on how to set up and run your own business with confidence. It simplifies the ‘how to’ when it comes to completing a business plan or when trying to complete market research within your chosen field. It breaks down the financials and teaches you how to view and review your product/service and helps you look at where you can fit into the market place. As a woman in business which is what I can now view myself as in a more confident light. I can now say with certainty that I would not have understand the very basics of running a business if it where not for completing this programme and throughout the 12 weeks there was always time for tea and bikkies and chats. Its a fantastic opportunity for networking with others.

I would like to say a massive thank you to Maria Staunton the manager for all her support and encouragement throughout this programme and to all the other ladies who took part I am delighted to have had the opportunity to get to know you and I wish you all the very best of success within your chosen careers.

To apply to be part of the next Empowerher Programme please visit for details.

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Michelle Malone

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