Mandy Lamb, MD UK & Ireland, Visa and Meredith Davis, co-founder of ReFunk Upcycling, a 2022 She’s Next winner.

Callout for Cork female entrepreneurs

By Marguerite Kiely

While Ireland has made strides in encouraging early-stage female entrepreneurs, gender disparities still exist. Only 37% of high-potential startups in Ireland were led by women in 2022, highlighting the need for more support.

A recent Visa study revealed that 93% of surveyed men felt confident in evolving their businesses, compared to 71% of women. Additionally, 87% of Irish women small business owners expressed optimism about their business's future, while the figure was 98% for men.

To address this gap, Visa is reintroducing the She's Next Grant Programme in Ireland. Now in its third year, the programme aims to support women small business owners. It offers five grants of €10,000 each and one year of coaching from international experts through IFundWomen.

Mandy Lamb, Managing Director UK & Ireland at Visa, commended Ireland's progress in helping female entrepreneurs. However, she acknowledged the challenges that women-led businesses still face. “It is encouraging to see Ireland helping pave the way for female entrepreneurs, and while important progress has been made, there’s still more to be done.”

“That’s why we’re proud to be bringing She’s Next to Ireland for a third year. With this programme, we want to empower women by providing funding, expertise and coaching so they can achieve their growth aspirations and make a difference to society.

“We had such a positive reaction to the programme so far, with over 60% more entries last year. Our ten grant winners to date have been incredibly inspiring and it’s fantastic to see the emerging entrepreneurial talent in Ireland today.”

Women business leaders in Cork are invited to apply for the chance to receive one of five grants of €10,000 and the coaching with IFundWomen.

This year, two new categories are being introduced: in addition to awards for micro, small and early-stage businesses, the newly introduced categories are Changemakers and Innovation & Technology.

The She’s Next Grant Programme is open to small businesses and organisations in Republic of Ireland that are majority owned by women, operating across all industries and sectors.

It is designed to be an inclusive programme to appeal to a diverse range of applicants from different backgrounds. Applicants in previous years who were not selected as winners are invited to reapply.

To enter, applicants are asked to submit details about their business and online presence at The closing date is 21 July.