Dainty Bear  among winners of Visa’s She’s Next grant programme

by Rachel Cunningham
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Rachel Cunningham

Dublin-based business Dainty Bear, founded by Áine McGurk, has been awarded a grant in the micro business category of Visa’s inaugural She’s Next grant programme in Ireland.

Inspired by her two daughters, Áine founded her business in 2018 with the aim of offering designs that would be cherished and passed on for years to come. This Irish-owned online luxury baby and childrenswear store specialises in quality clothing, shoes and accessories for babies and children under the age of five.

The She’s Next programme was established to boost and empower women entrepreneurship, and this year five women business-owners across Ireland received a grant of €5,000 and one-year of business coaching through IFundWomen.

Áine described winning the grant as an honour, commenting: “Running a small business has been challenging, especially with two small children, so to get this level of recognition is honestly such a boost after all the hard work in the last three years.

“I’m a big believer in up-skilling, so to have one-year business coaching will be invaluable to me as it will mean I can grow and develop my areas of weakness and focus on business growth and scale. Receiving the grant means I can invest in expanding my clothing ranges in 2022 and hopefully attend my first trade fair, as I want to grow my wholesale B2B channel in Ireland and abroad.”

In Ireland, there are almost double the amount of male-identifying early-stage entrepreneurs compared to female- identifying equivalents, which is above the average across the OECD. Fifty eight per cent of men in Ireland perceive that they have the necessary skills to start a business, while only 38 per cent of women feel similarly. The pandemic continues to affect small businesses, with women business-owners being disproportionately affected, and over 200 women entrepreneurs entered the grant programme with the hope of receiving the additional support.

However, the judges were particularly impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit of the five winning recipients. “We were blown away by the response to Ireland’s inaugural programme and it’s clear from the calibre of entries that entrepreneurship among women in Ireland is flourishing” said Dominic White, country manager of Visa Ireland.

“But the feedback we have received from entrants is that women need more support and can benefit hugely from coaching and the opportunity to network with like-minded entrepreneurs. We warmly congratulate the five fantastic winners and look forward to seeing them take the next step in growing their businesses.

Pictured L-R: Suzanne Moloney, HidraWear; Aine McGurk, Dainty Bear; Rosie Joyce, The Habit Store; Tammy Darcy, The Shona Project; Carolanne Rushe, Sweet Beat

Photograph: Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland

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