In this new column, entrepreneur, Startup Awards finalist, and member of telecoms firm Telefonica’s Wayra startup accelerator scheme, Erika Brodnock tells us about the successes, trials and tribulations of setting up her own business. Karisma Kids aims to teach children social and emotional skills through a mix of physical toys and digital games. This week she talks about the opportunities out there for women entrepreneurs.
In a world where 98.5% of the world’s top performing companies have male CEOs, organisations which aid female entrepreneurs are invaluable. Having attended and spoken at events such as “I am Visible” and “Mothers in Innovation”, and with the recent promotions of Virginia Rometty and Meg Whitman as CEOs of IBM and HP respectively, it is evident that women in business are getting more support than ever before.
As a female entrepreneur myself, I understand the struggles of starting and developing your own company. Alongside being a single mother to five children, I have set up Karisma Kidz; a business that aims to empower and educate children through play by providing online and offline products that enhance their confidence and happiness.
During this whirlwind of a journey, I have fortunately been supported by a number of organisations aiming to encourage women to reach their full potential. 60% of the cohort accepted onto the Wayra UnLtd accelerator, I have been a part of since last September, are women. Management Today has created a website which provides practical information detailing how to succeed in the business sector. What’s great is how it offers focused sections particularly for women and entrepreneurs.
Through its “35 under 35” awards, Management Today highlights the achievements of numerous women, raising awareness of what we’re able to do in a male-dominated world. Previous winners have included Stella McCartney, and I was fortunate enough to be listed as “One to Watch” in the 2014 listings.
Alternatively, for women just starting their own businesses, a number of conferences are held across the country. These enable aspiring entrepreneurs to mingle and network with more successful individuals who are able to give advice. Visible Women annually holds the “I am Visible” conference allowing female entrepreneurs to listen to and engage with inspiring women who have attempted to “shatter the glass ceiling” which continues to exist and prevent women from excelling. I was invited to speak at the 2014 conference, and discussed what I had experienced throughout my career in order to achieve what I have to date, as well as the investment opportunities currently available for women.
This was similar to the “Mothers in Innovation” conference where I was recently asked to celebrate the incredible power of mothers “to change the world”. Not only does the event aid companies wanting to help mothers, but it also supports mothers wishing to execute their business ideas. The report written by Geraldine Bedell, found here, is an interesting and insightful read.
What’s positive to see is that there are additional organisations out there, including some big names like KPMG, Telefonica and UnLtd willing to help and support female entrepreneurs struggling on their way up the business ladder. Campus for Mums is another fantastic initiative run by Google looking to support parent entrepreneurs through various workshops, mentoring, and talks with London’s leading founders, investors, and technology experts.
Through opportunities such as these, it’s clear to see the only way is up for female entrepreneurs!
Follow Erika on Twitter @ErikaBrodnock and find out more about Karisma Kidz here.