Blog by Sonia Meggie, Diversity Advisor Opportunity Now and Race for Opportunity
On May 28, Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, hosted a talk in conversation with former Dragon’s Den star James Caan, around the achievements of women in business. Joining the discussion, and offering their experiences and advice was MOBO founder Kanya King, founder of Coffee Republic Sahar Hashemi, and CEO of Smarta, Shaa Wasmund.
As a champion of women in business, Vince focused the Q&A section on the successes and importance of women in the boardroom, and the opportunity Start-Up Loans provides as a source of finance and mentoring support. Currently 40% of all loans are being administered to the female 18-30 year-old demographic.
A question was asked by a young female who runs a cosmetics business. She wanted to know what support would be offered to retail businesses and the issue of empty shops. She was advised that more schemes such as the recent pop up shop on Kings Road, would be rolled out across the UK.
We were introduced to Tonisha Tagoe, CEO of U-Media Films. She is a young black female director. She spoke about the benefits of a mentor and the resource pool that has been offered to her as a result of securing her loan. Tonisha’s loan was administered by RfO Award winner Elevation Networks. Kanya King spoke about the importance of women taking charge of their future and embracing enterprise. Sahar Hashemi felt that entrepreneurship was the new women’s movement. That women have to look at other ways to generate an income and secure their own success.
Lord Young, godfather of the scheme and former Enterprise Advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron, announced last Monday that Start-Up Loans will soon be opened up across the nation, from its current cap at 30 years of age. Having started over 4000 businesses, this increase of potentially eligible entrepreneurs could mean a huge uptake for individuals looking for small loans to help them turn their business idea into a reality.
The Start-Up Loans Company is chaired by James Caan, and has enjoyed support from many high-profile figures, including HRH Prince Andrew, Prime Minister David Cameron and Naomi Campbell. By 2015/16, they will have started 30,000 jobs throughout England.