Women in Business event success

Opening up access to business finance

Women in Business finance event speakers, November 2019

Over 60 women attended a free event designed to help break down barriers and open up access to business finance.

The Lanarkshire Women in Business, Closing The Female Funding Gap event was the second event in a year-long pilot initiative aimed at boosting female entrepreneurship in Lanarkshire.

It was led by partners North and South Lanarkshire Councils, Business Gateway Lanarkshire, New College Lanarkshire and the Federation of Small Businesses.

Attendees included women thinking about starting a business as well as those already running businesses locally. The keynote speakers provided inspiring and honest accounts of their business start-up, growth and funding journeys: Kathleen McShane, Bavarian Bakehouse Ltd based in Cumbernauld; and Jo-Anne Chidley, Beauty Kitchen UK Ltd based in Wishaw.

  • Kathleen, a former corporate accountant, made the move in to business when her son was born. She bought over a small bakery and has continued to develop and invest in the business which she relocated to Cumbernauld in 2017. Bavarian Bakehouse Ltd specialises in producing quality artisan breads, pastries and cakes including a gluten-free range. The business, which operates on a wholesale basis, supplies restaurants and hotels across the central belt. The business has grown to employ 19 full and part-time staff and turnover is nearing £1m.

  • Jo is a former chemist and HR professional who co-founded her beauty business with her husband in 2014. Early trading years were tough with Jo sharing her experience of pop-up stands in Glasgow's Saltmarket and rainy days with no customers. Five years on and Jo is well advanced in her mission to create 'the most effective, natural and sustainable beauty products in the world'. Jo's beauty business is thriving with both in-store and online retailers including Boots, as well as Holland and Barrett, a key UK and international customer. Jo has pioneered Return, Refill, Repeat - the world's first closed loop solution for beauty packaging. Beauty Kitchen UK Ltd is nearing the £5m turnover mark.

The second part of the event provided an insight to the wider funding landscape including grants, loans, crowdfunding and equity. Nine organisations were given five-minute pitching slots to 'sell' their funding product to attendees. Funders included: DSL Business Finance; Scottish Edge; Business Loans Scotland; Digital Development Loan Fund; North and South Lanarkshire Councils' grant funds; Lending Crowd; Scottish Enterprise; Gabriel Investment Syndicate; and Clydesdale Bank/Virgin Money.

Yvonne Weir, Enterprise Manager at North Lanarkshire Council said: "Lanarkshire Women In Business launched in September 2019 and this marks our second event in the pilot programme. Interest levels continue to be strong, and having relatable and inspiring role-models prepared to participate and share honest accounts of the challenges and opportunities they have faced is vital.

"We are keen to highlight the different motivations and life events that can prompt women to consider self- employment. In the case of this event, we also wanted to increase visibility of the many finance and funding options out there that exist. Ultimately, we are resolute in our ambition to grow female self-employment numbers in Lanarkshire beyond 25%."

The next planned event in the Lanarkshire Women In Business series will take place in March 2020. To receive further information contact Caroline Brown or Siobhan Quinn, Enterprise Team, North Lanarkshire Council Tel: 01236 638945 E-mail: businesssupport@northlan.gov.uk

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