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Kingston University Women in Enterprise Network (KUWEN) is a network to support women entrepreneurs in the early stages of starting their own businesses.
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.
The network was set up by Dr Yuliana Topazly, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship in Kingston Business School. It is free to join and open to Kingston University students, alumni, staff and women in the business community.
The network runs monthly events and workshops featuring inspiring guest speakers and one-to-one sessions with mentors, that provide an opportunity to discuss business ideas, get feedback and access expert advice.
A peer-to-peer support group also enables the sharing of ideas about starting and growing businesses.
A broad range of events has been held so far, covering topics such as problem-solving, developing businesses models, marketing strategies, accessing funding, as well as providing opportunities to engage with other members to share experiences and lessons learnt.
Guest speakers have included: Shikta Das, genetic epidemiologist at AstraZeneca; Kaitlin Fritz, tech entrepreneur and co-founder of online learning platform, Musemio; Giulia Iannucci, brand strategist and digital marketing consultant; and Liz Machtynger, senior lecturer at Kingston University, mentor and business consultant.
The network continues to go from strength to strength. Member numbers now exceed 50. A small group of mentors offers one-to-one expert advice, and a programme of focused activities and events is planned for the coming months.