Mei Shui is Managing Director of Virgin StartUp. She was previously Project Director at Virgin, before which she worked for The Start-up Loans Company, The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and The Prince’s Trust. She holds an MBA from Imperial College London.
“…profiling positive role models and female stories is a really important factor…”
About Virgin StartUp Ignition
Virgin StartUp Ignition is an event from 10am-3pm in London, being held on Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, 19th November 2014. The day will bring together over 100 female entrepreneurs to help them start and build new, sustainable businesses.
We have been delighted with the support we’ve had from other groups and individuals who also share our ambition to help women start-up. We have an amazing line up of speakers and contributors, from Google’s Head of Marketing, to hugely successful businesswomen like Ann Summers CEO Jacqueline Gold, to new business owners already making waves and with current step-by-step tips to share.
Why Virgin is keen to help female entrepreneurs and the support that’s on offer
We’re really proud that Virgin StartUp is beating the odds with 40% of the entrepreneurs we’re supporting being female, double the UK’s total rate. However, we’d love to increase that further to at least 50%. We are concerned that nationally only 19% of new businesses are being started by women. We know there’s loads more potential out there. Our event will shine a light on the possibilities of business-ownership and offer practical support to address the barriers.
At the event, guests will meet peers and build their networks. They’ll also gain honest insight, advise and inspiration from brilliant female business leaders. Really importantly, we’ll also connect them with practical support, including the option to discuss and even begin business funding applications.
Driving up numbers of female entrepreneurs
In order to drive up the number of female entrepreneurs it’s important that we share honest useful insight and provide practical guidance, as for any entrepreneur. We’ve been told that profiling positive role models and female stories is a really important factor too.
Potential benefit to the UK economy if more women start businesses
Creating more female-owned businesses is important for the UK economy. Unleashing women’s economic potential through enterprise has the potential to be hugely empowering for individuals as well as shift changing the way that business works. Starting a business is never going to be an easy route, but the ownership and flexibility it can facilitate can be hugely beneficial.
Barriers to success and how can we break these down
Our research support the consensus that funding is still the key barrier to start-ups. Virgin StartUp is addressing that head-on by being able to offer unsecured personal business loans of £500-£25,000 to help valid ideas with strong business plans to get going.
We have identified cash flow management and routes to market and the second and third most significant barriers. We’ll launch a financial management guidelines and are also constantly sharing insight from businesses who have secured sales and from experts on the other side, such as Ocado’s Head of Buying, who will be taking part in the Virgin StartUp Ignite event.
Next for Virgin StartUp’s support for women
After the Virgin StartUp Ignite event we aim to continue to work with at least 50% of the female entrepreneurs attendees to start and progress their businesses. We’ll offer them one-on-one business advisor sessions and support to apply for funding, as well as matching them with a mentor.
You can book your place at the event here.