The Connect Programme


The Connect Programme is a FREE and FLEXIBLE programme specifically designed to support women in starting their own business or returning to employment.  The programme is funded by the Department for the Economies, the European Social Fund and Belfast City Council.

The programme allows you to access as little or as much support as you need providing you are economically inactive or working fewer than 16 hours per week. 

We offer masterclasses on a variety of topics, 1-2-1 mentoring sessions, and business training opportunities. 

Maybe you're looking to get back into work?

We have workshops on CV and application writing, or interview skills.  Confidence needing a boost?  Our specialist mentors will deliver sessions which will inspire, support and motivate you to kick-start your career.  We also provide 1-2-1 career mentoring sessions delivered by expert mentors to give you tailored support. Check out our events page to see what workshops we have coming up which will help you achieve your ambitions.

Considering Self-employment?

Perhaps you're thinking of setting up your own business.  Self-employment can help you balance work with family commitments.  Whether you have an idea or not, Connect can help you explore all aspects of self-employment.  We provide 1-2-1 mentoring sessions with expert business mentors which are tailored to your needs. Visit our events page to see what sessions can bring out your entrepreneurial side.


The Key Objective

To increase women’s skills, confidence, knowledge and understanding of enterprise and employability through non-traditional learning which is responsive to needs.  In so doing they will progress more successfully into mainstream training, sustained employment or self-employment.


The Programme

The programme consists of 3 main elements.

Connect-infographic.jpgCONNECT IN

This is the main entry route to the programme for most participants.  It really does have something for everyone.
A schedule of workshops around a wide variety of topics will support, motivate and inspire, whether you're thinking of employment or self-employment.
Subjects such as CV and application writing, interview skills and confidence building techniques will help you find that job!
Perhaps self-employment is what you have in mind.  Our specialist mentors will deliver workshops on every aspect of setting-up your business including marketing, finance, social media, networking and sales.
Our mentors are all highly accomplished people who can advise and support you through your journey.  All sessions can be booked online through our events page.
The programme also offers 1-2-1 mentoring sessions, which can be booked online through our events page.  At a mentoring session you will receive 1 hour of tailored advice specifically to meet your needs, whether employment or self-employment is your goal.  Our mentors are very experienced both in their chosen field, but also in providing mentoring support ot women looking for a change.
Delivered by East Belfast Enterprise, Connect into Enterprise, is a pre-enterprise training programme for women who wish to explore self-employment. It isn't necessary to have a fully formed enterprise idea to make the most of the course.  Taking part will help you work through the many aspects of setting-up a business, exploring an idea's viability, through to next steps in getting your business off the ground.  Training can be either accredited or non-accredited.
Connect 4 is a 'buddy support system.'  Women who are considering setting-up their own business will be matched with others at a similar stage in their journey, to promote networking and peer support.  The group will then meet with a specialist mentor who will support and challenge them on their plans to develop their business.


The best part of the Connect Programme is it's completely FREE.  Almost as good, the programme is entirely flexible.
Should you need just an hour with a mentor before a job interview, simply book a session through our events page and our specialist mentor can help you prepare. Got a job application to complete? Book onto a 'CV and Application Writing' workshop and get all the information you need to secure an interview.  Maybe you have a gem of a business idea but you don't know where to start and need a broad range of advice.  You could really use some help with the branding, sourcing and managing your finances and marketing yourself online. Come along to the workshops for help in refining your idea and prepare for your first sales.  Need more tailored help?  Book a mentoring session to get advice just for you.
Connect is a fantastic programme which really can help you achieve your ambitions in a way that suits you.

For a full breakdown of membership benefits click HERE.


Why was the ESF Programme Set up?

The Connect Programme is supported by the European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020 in November under the Priority Measure 1.

The ESF Requirement

The overall strategic aim of the Northern Ireland European Social Fund (ESF) Programme 2014–2020 is to reduce economic inactivity and increase workforce skills.

The ESF Programme will contribute to employment policies to make progress towards increasing the overall employment rate and reducing inactivity in Northern Ireland (subject to economic conditions) by extending employment opportunities in particular for those groups at a disadvantage in the labour market.

It will also contribute to skills policies to increase productivity, enterprise and competitiveness by raising the skills levels of the workforce through lifelong learning and ensure the right workforce skills for future employment opportunities.

The Programmes objectives will be realised by helping people into sustainable employment; This will increase employment and reduce unemployment and inactivity by improving the employability of those groups experiencing significant employment gaps such as:

  • people with disabilities and health conditions
  • lone parents and other disadvantaged parents
  • older workers
  • young women not in education, employment or training
  • women with no or low qualifications
  • other disadvantaged groups, including people experiencing multiple disadvantage

The Programmes cross cutting themes are gender equality and equal opportunities and promoting sustainable development, including the creation of sustainable communities. Innovative and trans-national and inter-regional activities will be promoted under the programme.

In order to address these priorities set out in the Northern Ireland ESF Programme 2014-2020 Women in Business Ltd set up the The Connect Programme.

Supported by

The programme is supported by the European Social Fund, DEL, East Belfast Enterprise and Belfast City Council. The support provided by these funders is crucial to the Project and Women in Business Ltd are very appreciative and acknowledge their valued input. 


Our Safeguarding Policy

Women in Business accepts and recognises its responsibilities to develop awareness of the issues that cause adults harm, and to establish and maintain a safe environment for them. We are committed to promoting an atmosphere of inclusion, transparency and openness and are open to feedback from the people who use our services with a view to how we may continuously improve. We've attached a copy of our Safeguarding Policy and Procedure to ensure our participants are aware of our commitment and responsibilities.


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The Connect Programme
2nd Floor, Millennium House, 17-25 Great Victoria Street, Belfast BT2 7AQ
Tel: 0845 607 6041