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Women Entrepreneurs in Business

Women Entrepreneurs in Business

Hear from our Serious Impact Programme Support Intern, Jessica Gibbon who shares her musings from a recent female founders’ event at Allia’s Future Business Centre East London

Building a successful company is no easy feat, and the barriers to overcome are much greater for certain sections of the population. Recent research led by Barclays Bank and the Entrepreneurs Network found that male-led companies are 86 percent more likely to be backed by venture capitalists than female-led ones, demonstrating the gender disparity that continues to exist in this industry. What’s also apparent is the immense potential that is going unfulfilled because of the lack of entrepreneurship among the female population; women entrepreneurs bring in 20 percent more revenue than males with 50 percent less funding.

International Women’s Day – as well as the 100th anniversary of votes for women – brought the chance to empower and celebrate women that are continuing to smash glass ceilings in entrepreneurship. On 8th March Allia was lucky enough to host 4 inspirational female founders for a ‘Women Entrepreneurs in Business’ panel discussion. Our panellists – Robyn Simms, co-founder of Square Root Soda; Rebecca Oatley, founder of Cherish PR; Paulina Sygulska Tenner, co-founder of GrantTree; and Taslima K, designer – demonstrated the ways in which they are fighting against the statistics found in research, and how in doing so, they are acting as role models for other women to follow in their footsteps.

Despite running diverse businesses, a common theme emerged as the ladies recalled their entrepreneurial journeys: one of tenacity and the ability to overcome challenging circumstances. Rebecca spoke about how she ‘dabbed away tears’ when many of her clients pulled their PR budgets in the wake of the financial crisis but continued to fight and build back her business to where it is today. Taslima explained how a false pretention that her fashion degree would lead to a ‘dream job’ resulted in a cycle of internships that failed to materialise into anything permanent. It was only when she decided to build her own brand that she began to find her feet.

Allia is passionate about supporting impactful businesses, and it was fantastic to hear the valuable nuggets of advice that were given out to our programme cohorts and to local companies that attended. Members of the audience were encouraged to take on students to help manage their workload and to find a mentor that can help them with areas they struggle with.

Many stayed on after the discussion to sample the delicious vegan canapes that were so kindly provided by local restaurant The Brook, as well as Robyn’s array of refreshing Square Root Sodas. It was a fantastic evening which left our audience informed, reassured but most importantly inspired by the words of the women who spoke, and we hope to build on this momentum as we move towards our one-year anniversary in East London.