The past 20 months have been challenging for many small and independent businesses, but Visa research1 has found that those led by women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. In fact, the majority (55 per cent) of women business owners Visa surveyed said the last year was a "challenge", compared with 52 per cent of men who called it an "opportunity".
Gender inequality in entrepreneurship is not a new phenomenon. In Ireland, there's nearly double2 the number of men for every woman who is an early-stage entrepreneur, with the country also reporting3 the highest gender gap for self-employment in Europe.
Visa believes there is a big opportunity to change the status quo to help women entrepreneurs reach their full potential. The company is on a mission to support the thousands of women-led small and independent businesses across the country and has launched its global programme, “She’s Next, Empowered by Visa”, in Ireland.
Grants and coaching
In partnership with the go-to funding marketplace for women-owned businesses, IFundWomen, the She's Next programme will offer five Irish small businesses led by women one of five grants totalling €25,000, together with coaching for a year. Applications to the Irish programme will close on November 2nd, 2021, so there's still time to submit your entry and the process couldn't be easier.
We're excited to be bringing this opportunity to women-owned businesses in Ireland
Ireland’s She’s Next programme follows similar successful programmes for women entrepreneurs in the US, Canada and India. Since March 2020, She’s Next, Empowered by Visa has awarded more than €1.25 million in grants and coaching scholarships to women entrepreneurs across the globe.
Small businesses are the backbone of the economy
“Visa wants to spotlight and address the challenges faced by women and the gender imbalance that still exists in early entrepreneurship,” said Dominic White, country manager Ireland, Visa.
“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 and hope these grants will support them in making their next move.”
Women business leaders get behind She’s Next
Female designers behind the Irish creative brand Jill&Gill are also getting behind She’s Next. Gillian Henderson, cofounder of the company, said, “We are regularly approached by women entrepreneurs who are looking for guidance and advice on a wide range of issues from how they can take their business online, to finance management, marketing and HR.
“These grants can make all the difference to a business in need of a boost and is the extra support that women in business need right now. Having access to expert coaching is just as valuable to growing a business, so the coaching element of the programme is a fantastic benefit. We welcome more structured programmes aimed at women business-owners in Ireland and that’s why She’s Next is such an important initiative. We’re really looking forward to hearing the winners’ business stories and encourage all women entrepreneurs to apply.”
How to apply
The She's Next Grant Programme, in partnership with IFundWomen, is open to small businesses and organisations in Ireland 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.4
Applications are invited under five different categories: micro business, early-stage business, small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, innovation in science, technology, engineering or medicine, and social impact, including not-for-profit organisations.
Bounce back stronger
“We’re so grateful for partners like Visa that have such an appreciation and commitment to supporting women entrepreneurs,” said Karen Cahn, founder and chief executive 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.
For more information or to apply, click here and submit your application before November 2nd, 2021.
[ Visa Back to Business Study 2021 ]
[ RPA-Ireland-women-FINAL.pdf (oecd.org) ]
[ GEM Ireland ]
Jill&Gill has been remunerated for its collaboration on She’s Next, Empowered by Visa