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Inspiring and guiding female entrepreneurs

Kingston Enterprising Women is a new network, run by Kingston University, for women in the early stages of starting their own enterprise.

The network was launched in 2015 with a programme of four informal and practical three-hour workshops scheduled in the morning for the convenience of participants with children. We welcomed more than 40 women ranging from those still playing with ideas through to some already trading. Concepts ranged from garden furniture, to IT consulting, copywriting and a nanny agency.

Each workshop was facilitated by an expert business academic at the University and broadly covered problem-solving in business, business models, and marketing. The sessions were also brought to life by guest entrepreneurs who shared their tips on setting up and running a successful business. Speakers included Emily Goodall, founder of BundleBean, a children's travel product which is now sold all over the world; Coral Turner, who runs a bespoke couture business; and Zoe Miller, ex-TV presenter and now owner of Caterpillars Cafe in Kingston's Bentalls Centre.

A hugely important part of the programme, and a topic that was championed by many of our guest speakers – was networking. Participants enjoyed a catch-up over coffee and pastries at each session; were encouraged to make, and follow up on commitments to action; and were in contact between workshops to share experiences and offer encouragement.

Kingston Enterprising Women has followed on from Kingston University's partnership in ‘Make it Global' – a two-year, EU-funded project which delivered support to female-led enterprises in the London area looking to internationalise their businesses.

Through meeting many women at an early stage of developing their business idea, Enterprising Women was born. We are delighted that many of the ladies are now actively progressing their fabulous ideas and are continuing to network and support each other via email and a LinkedIn group. We plan to run further activity and workshops in the near future.

"The programme is very inspirational. Listening to the stories of women who have grown their business as a result of the support from Kingston shows what is possible." Lorraine Tapper, The Marketing Queen Bee

"Fantastic for inspiration and motivation for pursuing my business idea of running a commercial photography studio." Barbara Muller

"The programme offers an excellent balance between brainstorming and concepts and on the other hand practical, real stories from actual entrepreneurs. There is a good sense of unity and everyone is then enticed to reach out to others and help them." Mahieddine

"The guest speakers were inspirational and made you want to get on with it!" Edel Erikson