Visa is today launching its global programme ‘She’s Next, Empowered by Visa’ in Ireland, to support women-led small and independent businesses, many of which have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
Europe’s inaugural She’s Next programme will provide additional funding options for women business-owners in Ireland, with the chance to apply for one of five grants totalling €25,000.
In partnership with the go-to funding marketplace for women-owned businesses IFundWomen, women entrepreneurs in Ireland, across all industries and sectors, are invited to apply for one of five €5,000 grants. The winning businesses will also be awarded mentorship and coaching from IFundWomen for one year to support them with moving their business forward.
Applications are now open until 2 November 2021 at IFundWomen.com/VisaIreland.
A mission to support women-led small businesses
Even as the country reopens, small businesses in Ireland continue to struggle because of the pandemic, with women entrepreneurs finding it particularly challenging. In a recent Visa study[i] of small business owners in Ireland, the majority of women (55%) said the past year has been a challenge for their business, while the majority of men (52%) stated it had been an opportunity.
Gender inequality in entrepreneurship is not a new phenomenon. In Ireland, there are nearly double the number of men for every woman who is an early-stage entrepreneur, which is well above the average across the OECD[ii]. More than half (58%)[iii] of men in Ireland perceive that they have the necessary skills to start a business, compared to just 38% of women.
“The pandemic has impacted all small businesses across the country, but women business-owners have been disproportionately affected,” said Dominic White, Country Manager Ireland, Visa.
“Visa wants to spotlight and address the challenges faced by women and the gender imbalance that still exists in early entrepreneurship. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy in Ireland, and we all have a role to play in supporting them as they get back on their feet. To ensure they get the support needed, we are committed to providing the tools, resources, insights and networking opportunities that can help them grow their businesses. We’re excited to be bringing this opportunity to women-owned businesses in Ireland today and hope these grants will support them in making their next move.”
Women business leaders get behind She’s Next
Owner of Irish brand ‘Moxi Loves’ and former ‘The Apprentice’ runner-up Pamela Laird explains why the She’s Next programme is such an important step in bolstering women-led businesses:
“I can’t emphasise enough how valuable Visa’s She’s Next programme will be to women in business in Ireland. These grants can make all the difference to a business in its early stages or one in need of a boost, whether it goes towards a website, social media, branding, marketing, or research, this is the extra support that women in business need right now. Having access to the right mentorship is just as valuable to growing a business, so the coaching element of the programme is a fantastic benefit.”
Female designers behind the Irish creative brand Jill & Gill are also getting behind the She’s Next programme. Jill Deering, co-founder of the company added, “We are regularly approached by women entrepreneurs who are looking for guidance and advice on where to go for supports for their business, whether they are at idea stage or further down the line. We welcome more structured programmes aimed at women business-owners in Ireland and that is why She’s Next is such an important initiative.”
How to apply
The She’s Next Grant Programme, in partnership with IFundWomen, is open to small businesses and organisations who are majority owned by women, operating across all industries and sectors, through a simple application process. To enter, applicants are asked to submit details about their business and online presence at IFundWomen.com/VisaIreland.
Applications are invited under five different categories:
• General awards for
o Micro business: sole proprietorships or microbusinesses with no more than two employees
o Early-stage business: Businesses founded and incorporated within the last 24 months
o Small business: Any small business with less than 50 employees
• Additional two categories for:
o Innovation: Businesses in science, technology, engineering or medicine that are focused on developing new technologies.
o Social impact: Small businesses and not for profit organisations that have made a positive impact on their communities.
“We’re so grateful for partners like Visa that have such an appreciation and commitment to supporting women entrepreneurs,” said Karen Cahn, Founder & CEO at IFundWomen. “It’s an honour to partner with them for the inaugural She’s Next Grant Programme in Ireland, and we’re confident that with continued funding and resources, each women-led business will not only recover but bounce back stronger.”
With the expansion of the She’s Next Grant Programme, Visa aims to bolster its long-standing commitment to supporting small businesses, particularly those led by women entrepreneurs. Prior to the extension of Visa’s global She’s Next Grant Programme, Visa launched the small business toolkit offering solutions to enable SMEs to drive efficiency and sales through acceptance of digital payments and expanding businesses online.