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DIT researcher empowering women through enterprise

Posted: 29 August, 2017

DIT PhD researcher, Sylvia Gavigan, has just returned from Uganda where she spent the month of August providing workshops to local women empowering them to sustain themselves and their families through entrepreneurship.

Workshop attendees pictured with Sylvia Gavigan and Ugandan MP Florence Namayanja.

Sylvia, who is also the Ugandan Honorary Consul to Ireland, is currently researching the role of female entrepreneurship and empowerment in emerging African economies. Entrepreneurship has become an increasingly important source of employment and a tool for economic empowerment for females across many emerging countries, however, the level of female involvement in entrepreneurial activity is still significantly lower than that of men. 

Sylvia (left) with colleagues showcasing the variety of products made from pumpkins.

Sylvia, who has been working with young people in Uganda on enterprise and innovation projects for many years, explained that the idea for the workshops began after a chance meeting at a UN conference with a resourceful Ugandan business woman. "I met this woman who set up a business producing a number of food items, such as wine, juice and even porridge, made only from pumpkins. And this is what it is all about, many women have the skills to run a business they just need some help with their well-being and self -confidence to get going". 

Sylvia set about developing workshops for women that would build upon the knowledge they already have by showing them the different ways to earn money from the pumpkins they grow. The hundreds of women attending also received training to improve their self-confidence and received talks from educational experts encouraging them to access lifelong learning opportunities available in their local community.

The workshops, supported by NGO Self-Help Africa, were coordinated by Sylvia and a local team working in business, development and Higher Education.