My take on being a woman in business (Thanks mum!)
Updated: Jun 12
International Women's Day this year has made me reflect on the last four years Jodie and I have been working to grow Paws & Pause. In particular the journey of being a woman in business.
As a female Social Entrepreneur, I have faced challenges on my journey to creating a successful business. However, I am grateful to live in a time where women have more opportunities and rights than ever before. Looking back at the struggles faced by my mum's generation, it's clear that there has been significant progress in women's rights, but there is still a bloody long way to go!
My Mum has been one of my biggest inspirations as she raised me as a single Mum whilst also juggling being an entrepreneur. I am in awe of this... I find it hard enough juggling having a dog! Her entrepreneurial spirit and passion to be self employed rubbed off on me and was something I always hopped to follow. One of the many barriers for women in my Mum's generation was the lack of access to business loans. In the UK, it wasn't until the Sex Discrimination Act was passed - in JUST 1975! - that banks and other lenders were prohibited from discriminating against women in loan applications.
However, even after this law was passed, women often faced significant obstacles when trying to secure funding for their businesses. This dawned on me as something that Jodie and I decided to do relatively casually would of been impossible for my mum at my age.
Depressingly today, the funding gap for female entrepreneurs in the UK persists. A recent report by the British Business Bank found that female-led businesses receive only a small fraction of the total funding available, with just 1p in every £1 of venture capital investment going to all-female teams.
This lack of investment not only limits the growth and success of female-led businesses, but it also has wider implications for the economy as a whole.
We are super proud of what we have accomplished with Paws and Pause. However ever since we realised we wanted to expand I have realised how much I have become aware of my gender. Meetings and meetings and more meetings with landlords, planning consultants, construction workers, agents - 95% men. Whilst I am so confident in Paws and Pause's potential and our growth route why do I go into these meetings like I have something to prove?
In a recent meeting in which my mum, with her extensive project management experience in construction, joined us, was dismissed as someone who "obviously isn't a builder" and therefore we would probably need to get someone who knew what they were talking about first - despite the fact she has been managing tradespeople for decades. I would be very surprised if my Dad, who can't put a shelf up without a trip to A&E, would of received the same comment.
Despite these challenges, I believe that social enterprise is the future of business. Social enterprises prioritize social and environmental impact alongside profit, creating businesses that are sustainable, responsible and equitable. By choosing to pursue a social enterprise model, I have been able to create a business that aligns with my values and makes a positive impact on the world. I hope that more women will be inspired to pursue entrepreneurship and consider the social enterprise model as a way to create positive change while building successful businesses.
As we celebrate International Women's Day, I want to encourage women to take risks, follow their passions, and pursue their dreams. We have come a long way, but there is still work to be done to ensure that women have equal opportunities and access to resources.
Together, we can build a more equitable and just society where all women can thrive as entrepreneurs and leaders.
I also want to thank my Mum for showing me its possible. Without women in business 35 years ago, paving the way for us now, we would have no one to look at for inspiration. This representation makes it possible for women (in particularly this woman) to envision themselves as successful business owners.