18 Aug 2022

Calling on Carlow’s women entrepreneurs and small business owners

Calling on Carlow’s women entrepreneurs and small business owners

Izzy Keane of Izzy Wheels, Pamela Laird and Ailbhe Keane of Izzy Wheels

The 'She’s Next' Grant Programme by Visa is back to support women entrepreneurs to run, fund and grow their business. 

Due to the success of the inaugural programme last year, and the continued need to support women business-owners, Visa is also doubling the funding for the She’s Next Grant Programme.

Women-led businesses in Carlow are invited to apply for one of five grants, totalling €50,000, and accompanied with one year of coaching provided by IFundWomen, the go-to funding marketplace for women-owned businesses.  

Applications are now open until August 16, 2022 at

Confidence highlighted as key barrier to female entrepreneurs

In Ireland, for every woman that is an early-stage entrepreneur, there are nearly double the number of men.

This is well above the average across the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). Confidence continues to be a barrier to achieving parity, with only 38% of Irish women perceiving they have the necessary skills to start a business compared to 58% of men.

For those that have started their own venture, this disparity in confidence remains, with 43% of women business owners, surveyed by Visa, stating they were very confident in evolving their business compared to 65% of men.

The lingering impact of the pandemic is also being felt and businesses run by women are again disproportionately affected, with over half (58%) saying 2021 had been a challenge and their business is still recovering, compared to 33% of men[iv].

Mandy Lamb, Managing Director UK & Ireland, Visa said:

“Women who own and manage businesses face a unique set of challenges including access to capital and peer networks.

“That’s why we’re excited to help make a difference to women business-owners across Ireland today through the second She’s Next Grant Programme. Our research also shows women are less confident than men in growing their business which is why we’re particularly proud to offer access to coaching and support through IFundWomen as well as that injection of €10,000 in capital.”

Pamela Laird, entrepreneur, Mandy Lamb, Managing Director UK & Ireland, Visa and Ruth Deasy, Co-Founder of Bear Market Coffee

Small business community get behind She’s Next

Last years’ winners are among the women entrepreneurs getting behind the campaign, with most emphasising the importance of the coaching provided.

As Aine McGurk, owner of children’s clothing brand, Dainty Bear said “the coaching has been invaluable in raising her confidence.”

Ailbhe and Izzy Keane, founder of Izzy Wheels, the innovative and eye-catching wheelchair covers business, are encouraging women to apply for the She’s Next programme.

Ailbhe Keane said:

“We are passionate about supporting and encouraging other women to start their own businesses and follow their dreams. That’s why we’re very happy to get behind ‘She’s Next’ as the programme really resonates with us. 

“Whether the grant goes towards website development, social media, branding, marketing, or research, this is the extra support that women in business need right now. The coaching element is also wonderful to see as women can benefit from expertise and guidance to drive their business forward.”

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

Applications are invited under five different categories:

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

Additional two categories for:

  • 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.

Karen Cahn, Founder & CEO at IFundWomen said: 

“It’s an honor to partner with Visa on the second She’s Next Grant Programme in Ireland. It was encouraging to see the amount of interest in last year’s programme and we’re confident that with continued funding and resources, each woman-led business will be able to take the steps to grow with confidence.”

She’s Next awards more than €1.25 million in grants

Globally, female entrepreneurship is growing, with 153 million women operating established businesses. 

Since March 2020, She’s Next empowered by Visa has awarded more than 1.25 million Euros in grants and coaching scholarships to women entrepreneurs across the globe.


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