Irish Rural Link joined the recent online kick-off meeting of the Digital Entrepreneurship for Women (DEW) project, co-founded by the Erasmus Plus programme of the European Commission.

The programme brings together seven organisations from five European countries: Ireland, Belgium, Italy, Spain and France.

The kick-off meeting, originally planned for Brussels, Belgium, was held in online mode due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The context for DEW is based on a number of trends. According to official reports of the EU Commission, only 30% of start-up entrepreneurs are female, despite women making up 52% of the population.

In addition, gender stereotypes and male-dominated models and networks continue to prevail to the detriment of women. Meanwhile, Covid-19 has seen a disproportionate impact on women, with increased caring responsibilities and a concerning rise in the incidences of domestic violence.

Digital Entrepreneurship for Women

The DEW project explores entrepreneurial opportunity. It aims to unlock the potential of female digital entrepreneurs by providing innovative evidence-based and practical digital entrepreneurship knowledge and tools to empower self-employability and entrepreneurship for women in Europe.

The DEW project tackles various EU priorities (as well as exploring the impact of Covid-19 on female entrepreneurs):

  • The promotion of female entrepreneurship;
  • The digitalisation of the European population, with specific regard to female entrepreneurs;
  • Enhancing and boosting the entrepreneurial spirits across the EU.

During the meeting, the consortium discussed the overall project implementation schedule, defining timelines and respective duties in the following months.

The DEW official website will represent a repository of the project’s outputs, results, news and contacts. A mapping activity will follow, in order to identify the main trends, issues, best practices and policy support systems in the countries represented in the consortium.

Irish Rural Link will be carrying out an Irish country profile on female entrepreneurship together with the other Irish partners; Longford Women’s Link and The National University of Ireland (NUI) Maynooth. 

Moate-based Irish Rural Link will also lead the development of the project training toolkit, pilot testing it in Ireland and subsequently leading the delivery of the entrepreneurship programme developed across the partnership.

Brendan Mulry, project officer with Irish Rural Link said that the project is a great opportunity for women entrepreneurs or for women thinking about starting their own business to improve their digital skills.

“This is an essential skill these days for any business. The project will help women grow their business online or help them obtain an online platform,” he said.