Building better futures for migrant women entrepreneurs
2018-01-15 16:40:00 -


Jane Xavier


The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) has launched an exciting new project providing free entrepreneurship training to migrant women. Run in partnership with DCU Ryan Academy and funded by the European Social Fund, the programme will include tailored upskilling and practical information and mentoring to help migrant women in Ireland start new businesses or expand their existing enterprises. 


Entrepreneurship is an important tool to combat migrant women’s disadvantage, exclusion and poverty. Besides that, social enterprises create new ways of responding to social problems. The development of a migrant-led social enterprise will create better conditions for women in home care while addressing social exclusion, discrimination and isolation.


Despite migrant women’s potential and experience across many industries, they are rarely encouraged to take the entrepreneurship to the next level. There is a lack of support for women to engage in entrepreneurial activities in general, and it is a fact that migrant women encounter even more obstacles in finding fair and decent jobs.


Migrant women face many challenges related to institutional racism, exploitation, social exclusion in the labour market, cultural differences, language, lack of supports and networks, low confidence and family responsibilities, to name a few. 


However, there is a concentration of migrant women in the service sector, which employs 80 per cent of self-employed women, and migrants are more likely to start a business than natives. 


In the MRCI, we have always taken a collective approach to address the needs of migrant women working within the care sector. The work of care workers, childminders, au pairs, babysitters and cleaners in low-paid and precarious sectors is rife with exploitation. But workers have achieved meaningful changes in policies and conditions through campaigning over the years. And now we have expanded our support to empower migrant women accessing the labour market.


Although many migrant women in Ireland have had businesses back in their countries of origin, very few have gone through this path here. Once living in Ireland, they need proper supports to navigate the market and to become familiar with legislation, taxation, branding, targeting customers and the like. The barriers faced by these women can negatively affect their confidence; low self-esteem is one of the main factors hindering migrant women from flourishing in business.


Most of us do not feel capable of showing our strengths either in a job interview or when selling a product or service. Unfortunately we tend to sell ourselves short; we let all these challenges affect us and we do not show our full capabilities.


This programme will support the entrepreneurial thinking and talent of migrant women, and help participants to achieve their potential. The first group of selected aspiring business leaders was selected last year, and will soon begin their journey. The landscape of entrepreneurship in Ireland is about to change. 


If you are interested in getting involved as a mentor, contact Aoife Smith at or Jane Xavier at


Jane Xavier is a community worker support at the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, chair of the Au Pair Rights Association Ireland, a member of the MRCI’s Domestic Workers Action Group, and a member of Migrant and Ethnic-Minorities for Reproductive Justice.



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