As well as asking our new SEEK women social entrepreneurs what International Women’s Day meant to them, https://startupcroydon.co.uk/international-womens-day-iwd-a-new-social-enterprise-perspective/ we also asked our wider social enterprise network the same questions:
What does IWD mean to you as a female entrepreneur?
For me it is a way to celebrate the contribution women make as entrepreneurs and also to remind communities, societies and institutions that we still have a very long journey ahead of us when it comes to equality and parity across most if not every field
What female role models do you have and how have they inspired you to be where you are today?
There are many women who have inspired me for different reasons. Some are famous, perhaps business women and public figures such as Italian politician Emma Bonino or business woman and campaigner Anita Rodrick. However I also am inspired by women I meet daily who pursue their mission with passion and with integrity.
Why is it important to celebrate days such as IWD in our communities?
As mentioned before we still have a long way to go. Most importantly I believe that in order for societies to progress and be sustainable women must be economically empowered and placed right at the heart of them. When women thrive society thrives.
What is your experience of being a female entrepreneur in the social enterprise sector?
I am very new to this sector but so far i find it supportive and also exciting. Besides special enterprise is a sector that offers women the opportunity to work for purpose as well as profit and that is what many women actually want to achieve, a greater social impact.
What networks and support offerings have helped you get to where you are today? What support will you continue to make use of and why?
I belong to many networks in the industry I work in, travel tourism and hospitality, but also more broadly. I also am very passionate about mentoring and I mentor others and seek mentoring support from others. I nurture and value relationships and I find that people are then happy to support and help when you need it. Of course to be successful in business you need connections but you also need other things, one being funding, which in my experience women find quite difficult. So helping women access funding is one important way to support my social enterprise and many others!
Trading for Good https://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/trading-for-good –a recent report by Lloyds Bank Foundation for Social Enterprise UK found that 49% of social enterprises are led by women, however, this drops to 35% in larger social enterprises.
From your experience, what do you think might be behind this statistic? And how can we see more female entrepreneurs succeed into the longer-term?
It goes back to funding, partly. I think the issue is that women often fear scaling up because this conjures image of a rather more aggressive and less personal way to do business that women find out of their comfort zone and not what they want to do. Also, to scale up you need funds and women often find it hard to speak the finance language. But it does not need to be this way. Organisations such as Unltd. can help facilitate the process and hopefully change perception.
Alessandra Alonso, Women In Travel CIC https://www.womenintravelcic.com/
WomeninTravel is a social enterprise empowering women through employability & entrepreneurship in travel, tourism and hospitality.