Offaly teens scoop Stripe entrepreneurship prize at I Wish
Muireann Coyne, Bláithín Clarke and Sinead Ryan. Image: Naoise Culhane

Offaly teens scoop Stripe entrepreneurship prize at I Wish

1 Mar 2023

The first Stripe entrepreneurship programme is all about inspiring young girls to pursue STEM and business careers, said John Collison.

A trio of second year students from Tullamore College, Co Offaly were the lucky winners of an entrepreneurship programme run by payments giant Stripe and I Wish, a volunteer-led community that promotes STEM careers to young girls.

Muireann Coyne, Bláithín Clarke and Sinéad Ryan scooped the top prize for their business idea. They came up with a mobile app called SpokenStories to collect stories from older people.

The girls were named as the winners at this year’s I Wish STEM showcase event. The organisation has been running the event for nine years now.

This is the first year that it has run the entrepreneurship programme with Stripe for teen girls.

The programme was designed to give teenage girls the skills and confidence to develop their business ideas. Five groups of student girls worked with mentors from Stripe over a three-month period to build an initial idea into a business proposal. They then presented their proposals to judges in a Dragon’s Den style pitch.

The winning trio received €5,000 to support the further development of their idea and their school.

John Collison, co-founder of Stripe, said that the company’s entrepreneurship programme with I Wish was “a small part” of the wider effort to encourage more young women to pursue careers in STEM – “and better yet start their own businesses”.

“I’d encourage any female students who like solving problems to have a crack,” he added.

The hybrid I Wish showcase event took place yesterday (28 February), reaching thousands of young women and girls. Around 3,000 teenage girls attended in-person, while up to 15,000 attended the virtual live broadcast in Ireland and globally.

A teenage girl watching the proceedings at the I Wish annual STEM showcase. She is lit up with pink lighting and surrounded by other girls whose faces are out of focus.

Emma Tchouateu from 4th year at Santa Sabina College, Dublin at the I Wish STEM showcase.
Image: Naoise Culhane

Young attendees had the opportunity to engage with more than 60 influential STEM role models.

They heard from speakers including Stripe’s John Collison; former president of Ireland Mary Robinson; the ambassador at the Embassy of Ireland in Washington DC, Geraldine Byrne Nason; and international hockey star and mechanical engineer Nicci Daly.

STEM entrepreneurs and co-founders of payments start-up Xelda, India Healy O’Connor and Portia Healy O’Connor, gave a headline address.

Two young women taking a selfie with a mobile phone. They are lit up with pink lighting.

India Healy O’Connor and Portia Healy O’Connor, co-founders of payments start-up Xelda, who were speakers at the I Wish event.
Image: Naoise Culhane

Other speakers included Leticia Portella, software engineer at Stripe; Jessica Dino, senior automation engineer and certified machine safety expert at Johnson & Johnson Vision; and Arushi Doshi, manager in cybersecurity and forensics with Deloitte.

The event attracted more than 30 companies from the STEM sector, such as Deloitte, Arup, Stryker, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Alexion, Qualcomm, AWS and Stripe.

Caroline O’Driscoll, co-founder of I Wish, said that the event was about two things. “It’s about giving girls access to inspiring female role models in STEM and showing the girls what it’s like to work in STEM.”

“We have some amazing exhibitions like 3D printing, cybersecurity, how to design an antigen test. It’s such a fantastic opportunity for girls to learn more about this fast-growing area.”

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading