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No Repro Fee The winners of the Network Ireland Limerick Businesswoman of the Year Awards 2021 were announced during a special virtual awards ceremony (on Wednesday 19 May). Pictured is the winner of Established Business Owner: Ber Collins, Crystal Clear. Sponsored by LEO Limerick, AIB, Ingenium and Sales Dynamics, the awards celebrate the excellence, professionalism, vision and leadership of its members. Pic. Brian Arthur

Clare women’s business acumen acknowledged in network awards


TWO South-East Clare entrepreneurs were rewarded for their business acumen at the Network Ireland Limerick Businesswoman of the Year Awards.
Ber Collins, Meelick, a director of Crystal Clear, won the Established Business Owner Award.
Adopting the tagline “Say Goodbye to Bottled Water”, Crystal Clear works with schools, colleges, small and medium enterprises and multi-nationals to help them reduce waste from single use plastic bottles through the installation of mains-fed water dispensers.
In an interview with The Clare Champion, Ms Collins, who has been living in Meelick for the last 16 years, said she was absolutely “thrilled” to win the award.
She revealed one Ennis school went from recycling 600 plastic bottles daily down to zero after the installation of their contactless water system.
Once a person places their empty plastic bottle into the contactless unit, a sensor triggers the flow of cold water that doesn’t stop until the bottle is full.
The company has provided about 30 of these units in the University of Limerick and a large number in Limerick Institute of Technology.
Set up in 2017, the company, run by Ber and her husband, John, employs five full-time people in total and a few part-timers.
“Crystal Clear had its busiest year during Covid-19 thanks to a government tender that we were fulfilling throughout 2020. There is a massive interest in reducing plastic waste, which didn’t go away during Covid-19.
“Our next project is to help the hospitality sector to become more green and save money.
“It is great to be recognised with this award, having worked very hard over the last few years. Clare has the most of these contactless units per capita compared with other counties.”
Commenting on Network Ireland Limerick, Ber said there is a huge increase in female entrepreneurs and noted the network has provided a massive support and mentoring, particularly for smaller businesses.
Aisling Finn, Ballintlea South, Cratloe, who works with Jaguar Land Rover, won the Employee Rising Star Award.
Having experienced a “challenging journey” over the last 18 months, Aisling was “over the moon” when she won this award, and is looking forward with a great sense of excitement to representing Network Limerick at national level next October.
Working on a new start-up business developing interactive software to help children learning new foreign languages over a two-year period, Aisling had schools lined up to pilot it just before the pandemic hit.
This resulted in school closures, which scuppered her chances of going forward for further funding opportunities.
Having joined Jaguar as a scrum master on March 1 last, Aisling works with technical teams to help them adopt a very agile approach in a dynamic way, focusing on bringing value for customers.
She recently was just one of four worldwide candidates to scoop a scholarship from Women in Agile that supports women working in information technology, which has helped her enrol on a training course next June.
This has also helped her to apply for promotion in the company, which encourages employees to challenge and progress themselves in their workplace.
Acknowledging that juggling family life with working full time is challenging, she believes she is setting a good example for her children on how to find this balance.
Living in Cratloe since 2012, she is involved with Cratloe Community Council, working as assistant secretary and project lead on a heritage initiative.
The awards, celebrate the excellence and professionalism, vision and leadership of its members. In all, 22 finalists were competing across the various categories.
President of Network Ireland Limerick, Caragh O’Shea, from Cratloe, along with awards co-ordinators Emma Wilson and Karen Brosnahan, announced the winners from a glamorous professional studio set while committee members roamed across the city and counties Clare and Limerick to present trophies to the winners at their homes.
“The awards are a way to highlight everyone’s potential and recognise those who are passionate about their career or business and show determination to succeed no matter what life throws at them”.

by Dan Danaher

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