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This is our second visit to Donegal; this time I’m focussing on the Donegal Women in Business Network – A Network Overview.
Donegal Women in Business Network is now in its 21st year. It was established as a part of the Local Enterprise Office (LEO), that had the foresight to connect its community of female business owners and entrepreneurs.
Trish and Evelyn happened to attend the 2016 AGM and from there, decided to get involved and make a difference. Destiny, serendipity – whatever you like to call it…sparks flew and a network grew.
These ladies are the renaissance women, the queens of invention, having reinvented themselves many times over.
Trish has worn many hats, across many Australia and Europe, from medical and legal secretary to running a nanny agency. She branched out to graduate in marketing and moved back to Donegal 6 years ago. She didn’t have a network, so hence the desire to get involved in the business community.
Evelyn also lived abroad and around Ireland. She was a stay at home Mum until her kids grew up. She is self-taught in marketing and in 2013 she got a lucky break to write copy for adverts. The rest, as they say, is history. She calls herself Evelyn McMarketing and has never been busier!
And why is she involved in the DWIBN? Well she says, ‘networking is my drug!’. (Safe to say I get it!)
Trish, Evelyn and the full committee worked on really increasing the digital and online presence of the network. They worked tirelessly to let it become a vital centre of resource, support and a general awesome network for female entrepreneurs and business owners from Donegal and beyond.
Outstandingly, they have over 210 members.
For their 20th anniversary they put together a book and an e-book that outlines the history of the Network’s journey from its inception. Why not download it today and have a read?
How it Operates
Jo Daly is the current Chair of DWIBN, alongside the PRO – Evelyn, Secretary – Trish and Treasurer, Larissa Feeney. There are 11 people on the committee in total, so it’s very much a team effort to run this network and it’s all done on a volunteer basis.
Financially, it runs as a not-for-profit enterprise and it receives some support from the Local Enterprise Office to this day.
Their reach has grown in these years. They have worked with RTE on locating and promoting businesses, particularly where it relates to rural communities and have been instrumental in getting members promoted and supported.
Open Seat Policy
Any woman who is in business and would like to find a peer support group is welcome to join the Donegal Women in Business Network.
The cost for annual membership is €50.
Benefits of Membership
There are innumerable benefits of membership to this vibrant and dynamic network. Some of these include:
- Being a part of a wonderful group of supportive business owners and professionals
- Collaborative opportunities and business referrals
- Directory listing on the website
- Opportunity to share news on their monthly newsletter
- Opportunity to guest blog for their network
- Masterclasses, social events and business meetups
- Opportunity to host your own event and have it supported by members and via the DWIBN promotional channels
- Membership discounts
- Access to discounted learning opportunities from various training bodies
But one of the resounding aspects of the benefits is the speed to support each other. As Evelyn said, projects arise and because they all know each other, they can form immediate alliances and sub groups to deliver on projects efficiently and effectively.
As part of the membership, the network runs a number of events and you can get a flavour of them here.
There are educational events, training events and the next one, on 9th December 2020, is focussed on women’s health. They’ve even organised a trip to the Dáil.
Pre Covid19, there was one evening event and one coffee morning each month. These have now moved online. Their evening events run for 1 1/2 hours and the online format includes breakout rooms, so that members can connect and get to know one another.
Their events don’t run to a formal structure, as they focus on connecting their members to each other. There is support, advice, the opportunity to crowdsource support on business and personal issues, where they arise. It’s a safe place for these ladies to congregate and support one another.
For every ‘How do I…?’ question, there is always someone with the answer or access to the answer.
They have organised conference for International Women’s Day in Letterkenny, attracting 110 delegates. This was held in Harvey’s Point and then a second conference, held in the stunning Lough Eske Castle, attracted over 200 delegates.
Members also host their own events, which are then supported by DWIBN and its members.
They’ve had visits from Mayo, Dublin, Galway, London, New York…and they can now add Wicklow to that list.
This is another great opportunity to expand your network, broaden your horizons and plan a visit in the 2021.
The wonderful thing is that they are open to connecting with like-minded women from across the country and as I will be shortly taking over the branch presidency of Network Ireland Wicklow, I shall certainly be extending the hand of friendship to our fellow networkers.
To date they’ve successfully connected with Cavan, Sligo, Mayo, Monaghan and done an exchange with Cambridge.
The network is based in Donegal and covers the county.
Their website is Donegal Women in Business Network. They’ll be upgrading their look in December 2020, so keep an eye out for this.
If you have other ideas and suggestions of networks to be profiled, I’d love to hear them. They can be Irish networks, online platforms or indeed global networks.
You can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s keep the #networking conversation going!
You can join my mailing list too and I’d love to have you on board.
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