Meet the founders breaking the bias this International Women’s Day

Hear from five founders who are part of Allia’s business support programmes. Each of them is making an incredible difference through their business, while also championing other women to take the plunge into the uncertain but exciting start-up world.

Female founders are on the rise, with female led businesses in the UK almost doubling in the last four years. However, there’s still a long way to go with only 32% of UK businesses being owned by women.  

To celebrate their achievements, we spoke to five founders who are part of Allia’s business support programmes. Each of them is making an incredible difference through their business, while also championing other women to take the plunge into the uncertain but exciting start-up world. 

 

ZOE YU TUNG LAW – SOURCERY 

The business: Sourcery is an online sustainable wholesale marketplace, bringing eco-friendly products into the mainstream, reducing carbon emissions and supporting small businesses.  

The founder: Zoe was inspired to start Sourcery when a friend who manages a restaurant was complaining of how challenging it is to source sustainably. She’d ended up with over 100 small suppliers - an admin nightmare.  

This year's theme is 'break the bias'. How do you think we can create more opportunities for women to pursue a career as an entrepreneur? 

To create more opportunities, it’s important to consider the different hurdles female entrepreneurs face. Having a baby is expensive and there is no maternity pay when you’re self-employed. This creates a strong barrier to entrepreneurship and forces women to prioritise between the two.  

For female entrepreneurs who’ve taken the leap, funding is an issue - 93% of VC funding goes to all-male teams. Research shows that investors tend to ask men questions about the potential for gains and women about the potential for losses. Entrepreneurs who are mostly asked about losses on average raise seven times less than those asked about gains.  

While our focus at Sourcery is on sustainability, most of the brands and customers we work with are female-owned businesses. By creating a supportive business community for easier trade and resource sharing, we look to help them grow and amplify their impact. 

What advice would you give to your younger self? 

Don’t worry too much about finding the perfect career path. It’ll change over time and your passion and core values will draw you to new opportunities and adventures. 

What are you most proud of? 

My determination and resilience in finding my feet with every setback, relocation and career change I’ve had. It’s what’s got me from an idea 14 months ago to recently hiring my first two employees. 

 

BECKY BAINES – THE INK BIN 

The business: The Ink Bin creates community collection points to recycle ink cartridges and simultaneously raise funds for charity.  

The founder: Becky started The Ink Bin after a career in teaching left her feeling utterly despondent at the lack of funding in education. She was inspired to build an eco-fundraising business which not only raised funds for schools but had the potential to make a measurable environmental impact too. 

What advice would you give to your younger self?  
I would tell twenty-year old Becky to listen and believe in herself and her own advice. It is so easy to be influenced by the prejudices or opinions of those around us. I seek knowledge and inspiration from those around me, but ultimately, I must believe in myself and take responsibility to be brave and believe in my own instincts. 

What are you most proud of? 

I am a single mother and have faced many personal challenges over the three years in which I have run The Ink Bin. I want to set my sons the examples of perseverance, self-belief and resilience. I am truly proud of my company, but I am most proud that I have challenged the prejudices placed upon both myself as an individual and the industry I work within.  

This year's theme is 'break the bias'. How do you think we can create more opportunities for women to pursue a career as an entrepreneur?  

I have been exceptionally lucky to have a great deal of support from many organisations, including Allia. However, I do think I face certain prejudices as a female-founder. My greatest inspiration is Jacinda Arden and the concept that kindness and a high moral compass is not a weakness, but a virtue. I believe that we need to empower the gentler entrepreneur, whatever their gender, as they will drive a change for the better. Programmes such as Allia’s give confidence to entrepreneurs who face the challenge of doing something in a new way. 

 

JYOTI RAJDEV – JOTTY’S ONLINE WORKSHOP 

The business: Jotty’s Online Workshops delivers business workshops each month to help aspiring entrepreneurs to get the support they need.  

The founder: Throughout her career, Jyoti came across many women returning back to work who had lost their confidence and decided to help them back into work by offering them training sessions. More recently, she has extended her workshops to help graduates, mums in business and students who need a roadmap to entrepreneurship. 

This year's theme is 'break the bias'. How do you think we can create more opportunities for women to pursue a career as an entrepreneur? 

Firstly, women should get paid equally for the work they do. Female employees should be given more opportunities to make decisions as leaders in the workplace and be recognised for their contributions. I also think it’s really important to offer options at work around family commitments such as remote working.  

What advice would you give to your younger self? 

Learn to say no. Be kind and compassionate. Learn to make decisions as a leader. Change the language you speak to your inner critic and challenge your self-limiting beliefs. 

What are you most proud of? 

I used to work in our family business and when the time was right, I eventually sold it, which helped me to dedicate more time to start Jotty’s Online Workshop and develop and structure my membership model. I am also proud to have mentored a team of staff over the years and to have helped encourage others with their self-confidence and to overcome doubts.  

 

LISA KENT – REUSE2GO 

The business: REUSE2GO aims to eliminate the use of single-use takeaway container, using a return and reuse system. 

The founder: Through her career in science and her love of the natural world, Lisa became very conscious of the impact of society’s throwaway culture and an impending environmental catastrophe. Feeling compelled to act, this led her to co-found REUSE2GO.  

What are you most proud of? 
I’m most proud of my ability to step out of my comfort zone to try new things, which has generally led me to good places. Through co-founding REUSE2GO, I threw myself into the start-up world, and I am learning a whole new industry, developing new skills, networking with inspirational and like-minded people, and generally enjoying myself. Sometimes I stop and reflect on what got me here – and it always goes back to being able to leave my comfort zone. 

This year's theme is 'break the bias'. How do you think we can create more opportunities for women to pursue a career as an entrepreneur? 
Personally, I am really encouraged to have female mentors who are great role models to younger female entrepreneurs such as myself. Perhaps more female to female mentoring programmes could be established, so that other women could have the same kind of encouragement and support.  

What advice would you give to your younger self? 
Don’t let opportunities to develop your skills pass you by. Whilst I feel I have taken many opportunities, there were certain things I could have done over the last 10 years that would have served me well today.  

 

NOHELIA RAMBAL – GOODFIND 

The business: Goodfind is an ethical brand directory, helping consumers find ethical alternatives to everyday products.  

The founder: Nohelia has been interested in understanding inequalities in society from a young age and moved from working with corporates, to impact businesses and then to helping sustainable brands get seen and consumers find ethical alternatives easily.  

What are you most proud of? 

My mum, a perfect role model of a hardworking, independent woman and self-built entrepreneur who grew up with very little, but still was able to give her children so, so much. 

This year's theme is 'break the bias'. How do you think we can create more opportunities for women to pursue a career as an entrepreneur? 

To break the bias, a good place to start would be to encourage more women into senior positions at work and pay them equally for it. It’s much quicker to progress as an entrepreneur when you've already held decision making positions. But the reality is that women are offered a lot less roles above certain levels of management, and the pay gap becomes bigger and bigger the higher they go. A lot of them are pushed out of work when deciding to have a family because the corporate world has traditionally been built around men. Sadly, all of this also reduces the role models for young girls to think about entrepreneurship as an option, so it keeps perpetuating itself.  

What advice would you give to your younger self?  

You're great! Stay curious, keep trusting yourself, and be kind, always. Sounds simple, but I actually think I did pretty well as a young girl. I wish I knew that back then. 

 

Allia is proud that 50% of the businesses that take part in their programmes are female led - and we encourage breaking the bias by actively supporting female entrepreneurs and their businesses to grow. For more information about any of our programmes, please visit https://futurebusinesscentre.co.uk/our-programmes-2 or email hello@futurebusinesscentre.co.uk  

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