Dragon’s Den launches Illuminate Female Entrepreneurship Programme as part of Meath Enterprise week


On Thursday, 17th November, Alison Cowzer of East Coast Bakehouse and Dragon’s Den, launched the Boyne Valley / M1 ‘Illuminate’ Female Entrepreneurship Programme at The Mill Enterprise Hub in Drogheda. The programme is delivered by the DCU Ryan Academy and is a Fetac-accredited course aimed at entrepreneurs seeking to develop their business. Guest speakers on the day also included Bronagh Conlon of Network Louth, and Jill Stout of CooKit Kids who participated in the first Illuminate programme.

Alison Cowzer is a Co-founder of East Coast Bakehouse, the new large scale food manufacturing business based in Drogheda who are producing a range of cookies and biscuits for the Irish, UK and European markets. Alison outlined the high points of listening to 53 pitches on Dragon’s Den “the most successful companies have to be adaptable and continually listen to their customers. It’s critical that you also know all the relevant financial figures. A common issue for females is that they don’t ask for the correct amount of money that is needed to deliver their vision. You need to be confident that you can deliver on your promises, and having the right resources is integral to that challenge”.

The Illuminate programme was created by The Mill Enterprise Hub, with assistance from DKIT and DCU Ryan Academy, 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. Applications are now open, with the closing date of 16th December.

“I found the Illuminate course to be of tremendous value to me as a businesswoman”, said Jill of Cookit Kids, “I was able to spend valuable time working on my business in terms of developing the model and to truthfully analyse it, with the guidance and help of some amazing professionals”.

The first Illuminate course, commenced in October 2015 and enabled early-stage female entrepreneurs from Louth and Meath an opportunity to participate in the specially created course, which is accredited by QQI (Quality & Qualifications Ireland) at Level 6, Minor Award. The programme fast-tracked entrepreneurs businesses to develop their business and leadership skills, achieve scale, and create employment. Participants were 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 “it’s great to see Coca-Cola International Services and AIB come on board again to support local business. This keeps the price extremely competitive, and the course is an opportunity to step back from 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”.

For more information on all events, please visit themilldrogheda.ie/events.


Alison Cowzer (East Coast Bakehouse), Christine Meade (AIB), Jillian Stout (Cookit Kids and Jill's KItchen Cookery School), Caroline Lynch (Local Enterprise Office Louth), Orla Thornton (AIB) and Breanndán Casey (The Mill Enterprise Hub) at the ‘Illuminate’ Boyne Valley/M1 Female Entrepreneurship Programme event at The Mill Enterprise Hub, Drogheda. Photo - Jenny Matthews

Illuminate Female Programme 2017 pdf >>

Illuminate Female Programme Application Form Word Doc. >>