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Supporting women entrepreneurs to drive innovation and diversity in the UK (Posted by Griselda Togobo)

Tue, 28 March 2017

The STEM sector is one that is known to have a significant under representation of women.
Although businesses are working to improve diversity across all sectors of business, gender numbers haven’t changed much since - and the situation is even direr when we talk about women starting businesses within the sector. 
 
It’s important that we encourage more women to pursue opportunities within the STEM sectors, which will help in the wider achievement of sustainable development goals
 
Women are the answer to the energy and resource challenges as an untapped population the world over. We can foster innovation, which in turn boosts economic growth by providing female entrepreneurs, on a global platform, with the opportunities to learn and be engaged in technical fields. This will encourage them to pursue business opportunities in those sectors. 
 
It’s not easy starting a business, let alone a business in the tech and energy sectors, so we need to provide support and encouragement to those with the ambition to succeed. 
 
An organisation like Forward Ladies has a key role to play in that. At Forward Ladies, our mission is to create a global platform that connects the world’s women to opportunities, networks and expertise that empowers them and helps them to achieve their individual aspirations. 
 
There is a case for directing women to the right resources and networks. Knowing where to start and equipping yourself with the skills to help you scale up cannot be overestimated.  
 
Give yourself the best chance to succeed with these four tips:
 
Get mentored
Engage with other women within the sector. This will encourage more women to start or stay within the the STEM sector making it relevant and attractive to female entrepreneurs. Look out for opportunities to connect with established and budding entrepreneurs within your sector. If none exist, then consider creating your own opportunities – that is what entrepreneurs do best. 
 
Build your network 
What are the opportunities? You need to understand the whole spectrum of opportunities available within the sector so you can start to explore and be open to pursue lifetime careers and creating successful businesses. Having a great network to tap into will ensure that you never miss out on opportunities but most importantly that you have the support system in place for when the going gets tough – which it will! 
 
Finding the funding  
Grants are a great way to help support women starting their business because they are averse to taking on debt finance compared to men. That is where grants like those offered by organisations such as Shell come in. Do your homework and access any grants available to women starting ventures in your sectors. 
 
Upgrade your skills 
Running a business and scaling it up will require you to develop new skills. Being able to develop a team, develop commercial relationships through networking and managing your cash flow are still skills that are not being taught in school. You have to be committed to developing the skills needed in order to take you to the next level. Again there are grants available to support this. 
 
Being an entrepreneur is tough but also hugely rewarding. Make sure you surround yourself with positive people, people who see opportunities where others see problems and the world is your oyster! 
 

About Griselda Togobo 

 
Griselda Togobo is an entrepreneur, engineer and chartered accountant. She is also the owner and managing director of Forward Ladies, a professional networking community whose mission is to advance women in business, to tackle female under-representation in business leadership. She was recently named as one of the Top 100 ‘Yorkshire's Leading Women’.
 
You can follow Forward Ladies on Twitter at @ForwardLadies.

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