5 women-led start-ups win Visa She’s Next grants

Five women business owners each awarded €10,000 grants and one year coaching. Entries more than doubled compared with 2022.

Five women from across Ireland have been selected for grants from Visa’s third She’s Next Grant Programme for women in Ireland.

She’s Next is Visa’s global grant programme that aims to support and uplift women-led businesses by providing financial grants and expert coaching to help them reach their full potential. Ireland was the first market in Europe to launch the programme back in 2021.

“The doubling of entries reflects the growing momentum of women entrepreneurs in Ireland and their invaluable contributions to the economy”

This year’s competition witnessed an overwhelming response, with a doubling of applications compared to 2022 reflecting the growing enthusiasm for the programme as well as the determination of women entrepreneurs in Ireland.

Talent and dedication

The winners of each category are:

  • General Small Business: Rachel Hennessy, Happy Days, Co. Dublin
  • Micro business: Suraya Rahman, Little Eden Terrariums, Co. Dublin
  • Early-stage business: Alison McGrath, My First Steps, Co. Clare
  • Changemakers: Mamobo Ogoro of GORM Media, Co. Dublin
  • Innovation and technology: Marion Cantillon, PitSeal, Co. Limerick

Each of the five women business owners will receive a grant of €10,000 and one-year business coaching through IFundWomen, a funding platform for women entrepreneurs, to support, grow and expand their businesses.

“We are truly inspired by the incredible talent and dedication shown by the applicants in what is our third She’s Next programme in Ireland,” said Mandy Lamb, managing director, Visa UK & Ireland.

“The doubling of entries reflects the growing momentum of women entrepreneurs in Ireland and their invaluable contributions to the economy. The quality of entries coming through again this year has been phenomenal. We extend our heartfelt congratulations to each of the winners and remain committed to supporting them on their journey to success.”

Globally, female entrepreneurship is growing, with 153 million[1] women operating established businesses. Since March 2020, She’s Next empowered by Visa has awarded more than €2.5 million Euros in grants and coaching scholarships to women entrepreneurs across the globe.

“The She’s Next programme is an important programme to help promote, celebrate and reward enterprising women,” said Jennifer Carroll MacNeill TD, Minister of State at the Department of Finance.

“Small businesses are the heart and soul of our economy, as well as creating local jobs and strengthening communities across Ireland. Today’s recipients are really making an impact in the business world but also driving a vibrancy and vitality across the country.”

The She’s Next winners 2023

General Small Business: Rachel Hennessy, Happy Days Fashion Rental

Rachel is on a mission to make occasion wear rental a first choice for fashion and environmentally conscious women in Ireland through her business Happy Days, offering rental fashion options for all sizes, ages and backgrounds at an affordable rate.

Launched in 2021, Rachel’s goal was to create the biggest fashion rental business in Ireland and launched with over 400 dresses. Since then, Happy Days has become a trailblazer in making fashion rental accessible and covetable in Ireland. With 38.5k followers on Instagram and 2.8k on TikTok, it’s building a community of fashion conscious and environmentally minded individuals.

Micro business: Suraya Rahman, Little Eden Terrariums

Suraya’s ambition is to bring people closer to nature on the basis that plants are not only essential for our living environment, but regular access to nature refreshes the mind, stimulates creativity, and provides energy. Along with instantly reducing stress, regular access to nature can prolong lifespans and improve both physical and mental wellbeing according to Suraya. Little Eden Terrariums offers elegant home decor pieces that are mini ecosystems in their truest sense. They contain all the key ingredients to sustain and thrive for years, and even decades to come.

Each element is thoughtfully selected with nature in mind. Suraya works with recycled, hand-blown glassware and everything from the tools used to care guides and packaging is reusable and recyclable. No shortcuts are taken in the process, and each piece is meticulously curated using home-cultivated plants and mosses.

Early-stage business: Alison McGrath, My First Steps

Alison is changing the landscape for children’s foot health in Ireland with a recent survey by The College of Podiatry recently finding that 67% of children were wearing the wrong shoe size. Alison’s business My First Steps is on a mission to inspire confidence in parents with friendly, informative advice, while ensuring the foot health of generations to come. They work diligently with their brands to ensure the best training and most up to date knowledge; they analyse each shoe to determine its key features and work closely with local experts including podiatrists.

Changemakers: Mamobo Ogoro, GORM

Mamobo’s company GORM is an award-winning social enterprise on a mission to unify across differences and advance belonging for marginalised communities. GORM’s vision is to spark a movement of unity and shared understanding through innovative digital media, intercultural training and events that demonstrate that difference does not mean division. With the unique blend of expertise in creative media and social psychology GORM aids in the sustainable goals of (10) reducing inequality and (16) peace justice & strong institutions.

GORM is a non-partisan & non-religious social enterprise that focuses on a human first approach to engage across lines of difference through media related projects, events and educational programmes.

Innovation & technology: Marion Cantillon, PitSeal

PitSeal is on a mission to transform agricultural practices with an innovative solution for covering silage pits. Marion’s business is aimed at addressing the pressing issue of plastic waste and safety hazards associated with traditional covers. PitSeal say that by providing a sustainable and efficient alternative, the company is revolutionizing the way farmers preserve their silage while reducing environmental impact. Traditional silage pit covers, such as tires or plastic sheets, contribute to plastic pollution and pose safety risks. PitSeal says its product is a biodegradable and compostable cover that not only minimizes plastic waste but also ensures superior silage preservation.

Main image at top: – The five winners of Visa’s She’s Next Grant programme with (centre) Mandy Lamb, Managing Director, UK & Ireland

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