Visa aims to close the gender confidence gap with €50,000 fund for women-owned businesses in Ireland
The second edition of Visa’s She’s Next programme has a deadline of August 16 2022 for applications.
Thirty eight percent of Irish women perceive they have the necessary skills to start a business, compared to fifty eight per cent of men.
This statistic, which features in a recent OECD report on inclusive entrepreneurship, illustrates what’s known as the ‘gender confidence gap’ in business, and is a driving factor behind the return of Visa’s She’s Next Grant Programme.
Now in its second year, Visa’s She’s Next programme is an initiative in partnership with IFundWomen that provides both capital and business coaching support to Irish women business owners.
The 2022 fund has risen to an impressive €50,000, which will be granted to five business owners at €10,000 apiece in addition to a year of business coaching. Entry is now open to small businesses and organisations who are majority owned by women, operating across all industries and sectors, with a deadline of August 16 2022 to complete the simple and free application process.
Suzanne Moloney, chief executive of Hidrawear was a She’s Next grant recipient in the Innovation category in 2021. Headquartered in Galway, Hidrawear produces a patented range of adhesive-free dressings that fit into specially created underwear to help to alleviate the burden of the incurable skin disease Hidradenitis Suppurativa.
Moloney says that the programme can provide a valuable boost for entrepreneurial women. “Women-owned businesses merit a fund like this because access to funding can pose a real challenge. Having the support of an organisation like Visa also hugely validates your business plan; to be shortlisted or successful in the programme is a huge pat on the back.”
For those considering an application to the 2022 programme, Moloney offers this advice: “Some application processes tend towards the complicated and granular, but the She’s Next application process is especially user friendly. My advice to anyone applying this year would be to give as much information as you can and to focus on your achievements. Don't be afraid to highlight key milestones and do big yourself up.”
Suzanne used her grant funds to pay for a piece of tooling to make a new type of dressing for the Hidrawear product range, which will be brought to market later this year. “It’s been another game-changer for my business,” she says.
Visa’s She’s Next Grant Programme looks to address some of the challenges women entrepreneurs in Ireland face. Research conducted by Visa showed that women in business (58%) found the recovery from the pandemic a challenge compared to their male counterparts (33%).
“Women who own and manage businesses face a unique set of challenges,” says Mandy Lamb, managing director UK & Ireland, Visa. “That’s why we’re excited to help make a difference to women business owners across Ireland through the second She’s Next Grant Programme. Our research shows that women are less confident than men in growing in their business, which is why we’re particularly proud to offer access to coaching and support through IFundWomen as well as an €10,000 capital injection.”
The programme has received support from entrepreneurs Pamela Laird and from Ailbhe and Izzy Keane, the founders of the innovative wheelchair covers business Izzy Wheels. “The She’s Next programme really resonates with us,” says Ailbhe Keane. “Whether a grant goes towards website development, social media, marketing or research, this is the extra support that women in business need right now.”
How to apply
To enter, applicants are asked to submit details about their business and online presence at www.ifundwomen.com/visaireland. Terms & Conditions apply.
The categories are as follows:
General awards for:
◦Micro business: sole proprietorships or microbusinesses with no more than two employees
◦Early-stage business: businesses founded and incorporated within the last 24 months
◦Small business: any small business with less than 50 employees
An additional two categories invite applicants in:
◦Innovation: businesses in science, technology, engineering or medicine that are focused on developing new technologies.
◦Sustainability: businesses that show recognisable achievements in sustainability efforts e.g. sustainable energy, climate resilience, environmental and social best practice, environmental and social innovation, and gender and economic inclusion.
Applications remain open until August 16 2022 at www.ifundwomen.com/visaireland.