Empowering Through Entrepreneurship

29th August 2022

Posted In: Entrepreneurship

Irish mental-wellness start-up Ailim Healing has developed an online programme that aims to reduce the anxiety of people with neurological conditions who suffer from social anxiety disorders.

The patient-led, educational programme has a particular focus on empowering people who are experiencing the deeply destabilising impact of emotional abuse by family members, friends, partners, or colleagues, enabling them to remove themselves from unhealthy relationships in their own time and in their own way.

The programme incorporates a personalised blend of interactive webinars, workshops, animation, visual communications, videos, and ejournals.

Niamh Malone, founder of Ailim Healing, developed her business idea last year while participating in a new pilot entrepreneurship course for people with disabilities, co-founded by the Open Doors Initiative, sponsored by Pobal, and delivered by Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin).

Niamh has lived with social anxiety most of her life, and has a background in healthcare, having worked previously as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in stroke aftercare.

“Some years ago, I had a rare stroke that exasperated my Social Anxiety Disorder and I noticed that while there were a range of digital tools available to those experiencing a high level of stress or sleeplessness, there were no long-term specific online tools to overcome Social Anxiety Disorder or gaslighting.”

This entrepreneurship course with TU Dublin, allowed Niamh to carry out customer segmentation and market research, while also receiving support from TU Dublin Innovation regarding the legal and financial implications of starting a new business.

A few short months later, Niamh formed a spin-out with TU Dublin Innovation, which identified her programmes unique position in a crowded market, helped her with forming a company, business planning, product development, and ultimately licensing the technology for her new start-up. Niamh is now in discussions with leading healthcare organisations in Ireland and internationally interested in partnering with Ailim Healing.

“Ailim Healing has the potential to reduce the number of GP visits made by people with Social Anxiety Disorder, enabling them to self-manage, control and understand their mental health,” said Niamh Malone.

The first of its kind in Ireland, the customised entrepreneurship programme Niamh participated in addresses the additional and distinctive challenges faced by people with disabilities when starting their own business – an area that is highly under-resourced and often overlooked.

“Self-employment helps people with disabilities to participate socially and economically; allows them to choose their own hours or work remotely, and provides more flexibility than can be found in paid employment,” says Professor Tom Cooney, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Technological University Dublin.

Professor Cooney who designed and delivers the programme continues: “However, despite the benefits, there is limited awareness of self-employment as a career option for people with disabilities within their own community and within enterprise agencies and disability advocacy organisations.”

The programme aims to provide participants with the skills and knowledge to become self-employed and help them overcome the challenges of creating their own job. Each participant also receives a business mentor through the Local Enterprise Office network.

Supported by AIB, and thus completely free for all successful applicants, applications are now open for this year’s course which commences 21st September 2022 and will continue to be delivered fully online through TU Dublin’s Continuing Professional Development programme. It is open to anyone who self-identifies as having a disability and wishes to start their own business, resident in the Republic of Ireland.

AIB & TU Dublin Entrepreneurship for People with Disabilities Programme supporters include the Open Doors Initiative,  SimVenture, the Local Enterprise OfficeMicroFinance Ireland and DoTheFinancials.com.

Pictured (l-r): Anne Rabbitte TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Disability and Niamh Malone, Founder of Ailim Healing.