28 May 2022

Ballinamore woman wins place on EMPOWER

Ballinamore woman wins place on EMPOWER

Ballinamore author, Nicola Kearns

Twenty women from across the west and north-west took part in the EMPOWER START Dragon’s Den style pitch competition marking the completion of the second EMPOWER II START programme delivered through the iHubs in the Atlantic Technology University (ATU). The pitch competition was sponsored by the LEO Roscommon.
Ballinamore author, Nicola Kearns, was the only woman from County Leitrim to win a place in Empowerher, a regional Programme called the “EMPOWER Programme” to help increase the number of female entrepreneurs in the Connaught area. Not only winning a place as a new female business entrepreneur, Nicola also gained first place for the ‘best business pitch’ in the final event, which took place in The Abbey Hotel, Roscommon.

The EMPOWER Programme is run by the Atlantic TU Innovation Hubs and aims to fast-track female-led businesses based in the west and north-west by offering free training, mentoring, support and peer to peer learning.
Despite national recognition of female entrepreneurs, Ireland suffers from a low number of women engaged in business start-ups. EMPOWER “Start” is for females with an early stage idea or in business less than one year. Learning is by lecture and doing. The opportunity is to practically test your idea for customer acceptance.

Sandra Divilly Nolan – Business Mentor with Empowerher stated “The enormous response to the EMPOWER Programme highlights the thriving culture of female entrepreneurship in the region: over 180 women applied for the twenty places on this year’s EMPOWER START programme. Nicola Kearns applied and secured a place on the programme in January. She embraced the challenging process, pushed herself out of her comfort zone, received and offered constructive feedback and support to her fellow participants, engaged with the business mentors and gained practical value from the programme. To start the programme with a business concept and finish, Nicola is now self-employed with paying customers and a network of peer support and contacts to support her business development, is the definition of success.
“Nicola’s business will offer a valuable service to authors and attract business to her locality. It has been my pleasure working alongside Nicola over the last 12 weeks.”

How Empowerher, Empowered Nicola
“Empower reminded me of who I am. I found me again. When I began on the programme, I had just left a job I had been in for almost eleven years. My confidence was at all time low,” Nicola said
“I’d had a dream for a long time of opening my own business of a Writers Retreat. As an author and writer I found it difficult to access the type of service that I now offer to writers.
“Although I had put a lot of work over several years into making my dream a reality, I felt completely inept and out of my comfort zone in the area of business or entrepreneurship. The phrase ‘Impostor Syndrome’ was used a lot in the first few meetings I had with the Empower Programme. It was exactly how I felt - an impostor.

“My confidence has returned, my self-belief has returned, and I have had the most powerful coaching and mentorship that I gained through the Empower Programme. The training was amazing, the work was hard but so worthwhile and the opportunities and network made available to me have been game-changers.”
She continued “Empowerher was life-changing for me. I am so excited to begin my new journey as an entrepreneur and I am so grateful to have had this wonderful experience. I want to say a huge thank you to Sandra Devilly-Nolan who was the most patient, inspiring and supporting mentor.

“I also had amazing mentoring from Brian Dolan at LEO – Leitrim and Liam O’Brien, Leitrim Development Company, who I would like to thank for their support. I am so grateful that the Empowerher programme will now empower me to empower others. What a wonderful opportunity.”
Nicola Kearns new business is Leitrim Writing Cottage, set in a beautifully restored 19th century cottage nestled among mature trees and surrounded by peaceful Leitrim landscape.
Her Writing Workshops provides a creative space for writers and tutelage with Nicola, under her wealth of experience as writer, author and qualified creative writing teacher.
The service is provided for writers at all levels. It is for beginners to seasoned writers, who need assistance in building their characters, planning a plot, proof-reading and editing. Or for writers who have a manuscript, and need guidance in making their work into a physical book.

“As an author and writer I found it difficult to access the type of service that I now offer to writers. I went from one writing course to another, but none could give me what I needed. I needed one on one help. I needed somebody who would walk me through every step of the journey to getting my book published. Somebody who felt as passionate about my writing as I did, but also who had the experience and know-how to navigate with me the many aspects of getting a book from a manuscript or file on the computer to an actual physical book.”

Workshops will include four courses over two days, which will include:  crafted exercises, stimulating reading /and or listening & intensive writing in an atmosphere that is convivial and supportive, yet rigorous and productive. I will also have guest authors who will give a talk on their writing experiences and who will happily answer any queries. There will be an opportunity for one-on-one consultations for each participant and follow on feedback via phone/email or zoom meetings if required.
Individual Writing Workshops can be customised with Nicola’s feedback.

Bring your own Writing Group: Arrange one of our own workshops with Nicola just for your group, at a date that suits you.
Nicola also offers one on one consultation and workshops both at my writing cottage and online.
Bookings can be made by emailing Nicola at

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