Posted Friday 22 October 2021
A network set up by Kingston Business School to address the challenges female entrepreneurs face has gone from strength to strength since its inception. Kingston University's Women in Enterprise Network was set up by Dr Yuliana Topazly, a senior lecturer in entrepreneurship at Kingston Business School, and, since its launch in March, has held a variety of virtual events.
The idea behind the initiative came from the Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship – an independent report commissioned by HM Treasury. It identified key barriers faced by women starting and growing businesses and suggested ways of unlocking this untapped talent, which estimates predict could add around £250 billion in value to the UK economy. Currently, only one in three UK entrepreneurs are female.
"I'm delighted to see the government is taking an important step to understand challenges female entrepreneurs face, but also looking at the ways those challenges can be addressed," Dr Topazly explained. "The network will be able to support other initiatives and create a safe networking environment for like-minded entrepreneurs. Kingston University has a great reputation for enterprise and that. combined with the University's commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, encouraged me to launch the network."
The network, which has more than 50 members, is free to join and is open to Kingston University students, alumni, staff and women in the local community. It runs monthly events with guest speakers and one-to-one sessions that provide an opportunity to discuss business ideas, get feedback and access expert advice. A bi-monthly peer-to-peer support group offers another avenue to discuss ideas about starting and growing businesses.
"The network provides a fantastic opportunity to start and grow your business," Dr Topazly said. "We offer members one-to-one advice from experts in their field, as well as support for their business. We also provide confidential advice to make sure women have the best chance of succeeding in the world of enterprise."
Hearing from the network's guest speakers has been a particular highlight for network members. Speakers have included Kaitlin Fritz, co-founder and chief operating officer of children's virtual reality education platform Musemio, and Sneha Shah, founder and chief executive officer of Curaty – a research-driven company connecting art with business.
Clare Concannon, founder of Positive Experience Training, said she has enjoyed meeting new people through the network. "The community around the events is so vibrant," she said. "After going to my first guest speaker event I made sure I invited a colleague to the next one. I have come away excited from every event and cannot wait to come back for more."
As well as being a senior lecturer at Kingston Business School, Dr Topazly is an entrepreneur and director of MyOutSpace – a social enterprise in Croydon, South London, specialising in supporting women and parents from disadvantaged backgrounds into employment and self-employment through training, mentoring and advice. Dr Topazly was featured in the WISE 2020 list of inspirational women in business.
The network's next events include How Thinking Like a Behavioural Scientist can Give Entrepreneurs a Competitive Advantage on 17 November and a virtual Christmas networking session on 15 December.