Donegal woman Natasha Langan wins Empower start pitch Competition 2022

Natasha Langan, MSc, D. Clin. Psych., Co Donegal, was declared the overall winner for her start up called “Dr Natasha Langan” which provides online psychological and psychosexual therapy for women and their partners. Runner-up was Adriana Taheny, Galway, CEO of Zzzana Nightwear, which design and produce temperature regulating sleepwear to improve the quality of sleep.

Each of the women had a five-minute pitch on their business concept followed by questions from the judging panel which comprised of Gillian Buckley (WDC), Niamh Costello (CREW) and John Magee (Mayo LEO). The event was sponsored by LEO Roscommon. The audience were invited to vote and choose the winner for two prizes. ‘Best Story Telling Within The Pitch’ was won by Nicola Kearns of The Leitrim Writing Cottage, Co Leitrim. There were joint winners of the ‘Best Opening Line’ — Daniella Baumgarten of Dani Teal Studio, Co Mayo and Sharon Conroy, The Woof Guide, Co Galway.

Winner Natasha Langan (centre) with Gillian Buckley, Western Development Commission, and Eilis Mullooly from Roscommon LEO who sponsored the event

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. 

Sandra Divilly Nolan, EMPOWER Programme Manager, says: “These entrepreneurs have worked hard over the 12-week programme to engage with customers to understand their needs and validate the business concept. The EMPOWER Pitch competition prepares new entrepreneurs to define and articulate their business purpose and vision, develop their communication skills, and build their self-confidence, while becoming part of a support group of like-minded ambitious female founders.”

“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. I thank the Department of Justice and Equality and the ESF for their support, and the Local Enterprise Offices who have offered mentoring and support to the participants. I would also like to thank the event sponsors the Roscommon LEO.”

Testimonials (EMPOWER 2022 programme)

“Over the years, I have done so many different courses and I have never been so personally challenged and enlightened by any of them compared to this Empower programme. It has given me a solid understanding of what I need to do to move this project forward and confidence in myself to just go and do it.” — Martina Ní Chúlain, Galway

Empower Female Entrepreneurship

Empower reminded me of who I am. 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. I’d had a dream for a long time of opening my own business. As an author and writer, I found it difficult to access the type of service that I now offer – a Writers’ Retreat.  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. It was exactly how I felt.  Four months later, I won the best business story pitch. I have begun to get bookings for my Writing Workshops/Retreats and am now self-employed. Empowerher, Empowered me. 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 worthwhile and the opportunities and network made available to me have been game-changers. I am so excited on my new journey. I want to say a huge thank you to Sandra Divilly-Nolan who was the most patient, inspiring, and supporting mentor. She was amazing.” — Nicola Kearns, Leitrim Writing Cottage, Co Leitrim.


EMPOWER is funded by the Department of Justice and Equality and the European Social Fund. It has two parts; EMPOWER START for early-stage ideas or businesses less than 18 months old and EMPOWER GROWTH for females in business for three years or more.

EMPOWER START is designed to validate business ideas for market acceptance. This FREE programme is delivered part-time by start-up experts.  This allows participants to balance their work, caring and family commitments while at the same time planning and developing their new business. Originally open to applicants from county Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, EMPOWER II expanded to include applicants from counties Leitrim, Sligo, and Donegal.


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