Why I will be voting Labour

I am a female entrepreneur, living in Scotland with a Scottish registered business, buying supplies from Europe, and with Simpsons Tea, selling British branded products. So you could say that I cover all the bases when it comes to experiencing business life. And we are in trouble. Big trouble.

Under the SNP, we have entrenched patriarchy in Scotland and it is killing the country. Our economy is on it’s knees. The SNP, with their obsession with independence, have driven the country into systemic poverty. Scratch below the New Town surface and you will find dire levels of poverty, which I believe is due to hardened patriarchy. Open up the economy to equal pay and extra support for female entrepreneurs and watch what will happen. In fact, it has been proven that if a country encourages it’s female entrepreneurs it improves its economy. This is NOT a female issue. It is an economic issue.

However Scotland has done very little to encourage its female entrepreneurs, indeed with the hardened patriarchy at every level, I would go so far as to say it is actually actively discouraging them.

Patriarchy rules Scotland and has done so for a long time. I have experienced this first-hand myself. From the male dominated business networking groups through to boys clubs looking after each other, it is pretty hard as a female entrepreneur. I have been called names, been threatened and mauled at and that was all on one night…

I have had a tea business now for nearly 10 years and during that time, we have won contracts, exhibited at international food exhibitions all over the world and won many awards. However I also have been cheated by the banks (RBS’s mis-selling loan swindle of 2010) and experienced an absolute lack of support from both the Scottish and British government agencies.

I turned around my business by export, yet, I have not had one bit of support from the Scottish Government under the SNP or any support from the British Government. This is outrageous.

We need a change. A massive change. We need to vote Labour throughout the UK and bring in the under-noted changes for female entrepreneurs:

  1. SUPPLIER DIVERSITY – The US has supplier diversity legislation in order to try to support female entrepreneurs and the UK has nothing. This needs to change.
  2. MICRO-CREDIT – We need micro-credit schemes to boost female owned business rather than crippling bank loans that are mis-sold and fraudulent.
  3. VC FUNDING FOR WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES –  We need proper VC funding for women-owned businesses that understands the many different obstacles that female-owned businesses face.

This is why I will be voting Labour…

 

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Empower Women and you empower a Nation

It is with great delight that I hear today that Jeremy Corbyn is bringing in policies for the equality of women.  In a society dominated by widespread banking corruption at the heart of the city and dominated by patriarchy, Corbyn recognises that if you empower women you empower a nation.

FEMALE ENTREPRENEURSHIP

I suspect that Corbyn will bring in massive change in the banking system and will attempt to dismantle the “old boys network”. It would be ideal if part of this reform takes into account the fact that lack of access to finance and punitive banking loans are currently strangling female entrepreneurship.

ACCESS TO FINANCE

As part of this reform, it would be amazing if it is recognized that the access to finance is currently  one of the main barriers to female entrepreneurship. It is already widely accepted that female entrepreneurship is an economic issue but no-one is really was doing anything to enable it.

The combination of free childcare and micro-credit would revolutionise the lives of women. For the first time, women would be enabled to become financially independent. This is a huge change and at it’s heart, it is an economic change. Corbyn realises that if you empower women, you empower a nation. Microcredit banking through a new National Investment Bank would release microcredit loans to SME’s owned by women to encourage business start-ups and growth.

We have business accelerator programs that are no more than glorified car salesmen acting solely as salesmen for the banks. Obviously, this is corrupt and useless. I hope that Corbyn flushes these out by his measures for reform for the equality for women.

VC FUNDING FOR WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES

Image result for VC women investing

Another issue that is very important is VC funding. We have dreadful statistics, as shown above. Why can’t some of these measures include match funding to help women start up their own VC firms to invest in women? We need more VC’s that are NOT part of the Old Boys Network. I would like to see a vision of the future where I set up my own venture capital firm to invest in women. Maybe under Corbyn’s reforms, this might be possible.

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Corbyn’s investment in women can help to create and grow some of the world’s most incredible entrepreneurs as well as contributing hugely to social projects internationally. I just hope that he realises that women’s equality extends to female entrepreneurship too.

Digital satire – the power of the painter

NORRIE HARMAN

Social media is the great leveller in the world of politics and art. The internet has democratised the politician’s spin; visually reducing politicians to a laughing stock. Visual satire is now being produced on a scale never seen before in the digital arena. The combination of platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, along with editing tools such as Photoshop, enables artists to create digital works, with immediate effect. Many artists are now using digital satire as a means of expressing their creativity as well as questioning political and social injustice.

OIL PAINTING AND DIGITAL SATIRE

One artist who is leading the way in digital satire, is the artist, Norrie Harman. Harman is an award-winning oil painter who grew up on the outskirts of Edinburgh, in Wester Hailes, a 1970’s housing scheme. Harman’s work explores his childhood growing up in a wild, forgotten part of the city with themes of dystopia and poverty. This was beautifully explored in Harman’s exhibition…

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Independence Referendum – Women Voting No

Lesley Riddoch wrote a while ago about this issue and I wanted to add my own thoughts, as I am a female business woman working and growing a business in the UK, based in Scotland.

http://www.newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-opinion/9018-yes-needs-to-do-more-to-persuade-scotlands-women

The issue she discussed in her article was why women are lagging behind in the rush to vote Yes. As a female entrepreneur, the notion articulated by Professor John Curtice that “women lack the hunter-gatherer instinct and tend to be home-makers not risk-takers” is a view that belongs quite firmly in the man-cave that the Professor must occupy. Seriously, are we STILL debating whether women’s brains are up to it? Surely, we have evolved beyond that? Well, we have but it seems some of our fellow men have not.

Lesley’s view is one that I support wholeheartedly….”I’ve argued women fear independence might only mean limitless power for the unreconstructed dinosaurs that sadly still abound in Scotland – self-important, puffed up men (and women) who are hostile to minorities, social change and non-hierarchical ways of working”.

Having started-up my business over five years ago, survived the recession, grown and then restructured the business for future growth, I have earned my entrepreneur wings. Female entrepreneurship is an economic issue not a “female” issue and is one the other countries like the US have embraced. The US now has supplier diversity laws that require a certain percentage of supply chain purchases to come from female-owned businesses. We need both men and women to support women to start-up AND grow businesses.

Sadly, some of the so called business leaders that I have come across in Scotland belong firmly in the “unreconstructed dinosaurs” camp, with name-calling, belittling, sexist put-downs the norm. And woe betide letting any one know you might be a female entrepreneur that is also a MOTHER!! Then all respect goes right out the window. When I won Mumpreneur of the Year in 2010, the Chairman of a well established business networking group in Scotland congratulated me in a public forum but then went on to suggest that I might also go for the “Dumbpreneur” award next time. What astounding ignorance.

Is it any wonder that I chose to network and grow my business in London/Europe/US rather than look to my own country for that support? And that is a currently devolved country. As for what it would be like as a fully independent country, it makes me shudder.

So, Professor Curtice, it is not that my brain is wired to knit scarves and cook up a storm in the kitchen. It is actually wired to be courageous, brave, creative, intelligent, innovative and most of all entrepreneurial and believe me, if you want to be a female entrepreneur in Scotland, you are going to need all of those attributes.

The Mama working with Resolve to celebrate women on International Women’s Day

The Mama is working with social enterprise, Resolve to celebrate women on International Women’s Day!

International Women’s Day is on Friday 8 March 2013 and thousands of events are being held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. One such event is being hosted by the Edinburgh Social Enterprise, resolve.

Speaking about the event, resolve business manager Wendy Bates explained how, for many women, juggling is a fact of life.

“Home, work, relationships, the school run, family, friends, partnered-up or single, it can often feel like it’s all go and all down to you”, she said.  “We want to encourage women to focus on themselves for a while, be inspired and above all else, have some fun.”

The event will be held in the Merchants’ Hall in Hanover Street, Edinburgh from 10am until 3pm.

As well as being treated to a glass of bubbly and a delicious lunch,  women will hear from local ‘Mumpreneur’ Anna Louise Simpson, as she shares her fascinating journey from Corporate Lawyer to Oil Painter to full time mum and founder of her award winning herbal tea company, Mama Tea Limited.” www.mamatea.com. In particular, Anna Louise will discuss how she manages to ‘juggle it all’, within the wider context of a consideration and celebration of women internationally.

It will be a relaxed atmosphere with plenty of opportunity for proper “me-time”, whether it’s chatting and sharing experiences with fellow guests, having a pamper at one of the beauty stations or benefiting from the coaching and wellbeing experts who will be on hand running workshops and providing expert advice.

For further details and to book, please contact support@health-in-mind.org.uk or call 0131 718 6003. Group discounts are available for parties of 6.

resolve works with individuals and businesses to manage stress and promote wellbeing and was set up by mental health charity Health in Mind with funding from the Scottish Government Enterprise Growth Fund.

Ladies Leaders Lunch – Influential Scottish Women meeting to debate the Union

Ladies Leaders Lunch 

The descriptor for this fabulous event is “Stylish, Sassy and Scottish” – sounds right up my street! This event is taking place on Friday 8th February 2013 in a central Glasgow location and the object is to gather a host of Scotland’s high profile female industry leaders, creatives, academics and emerging talent who support a United Kingdom. Now I am not a political creature by any means but I believe in a unified Britain for both personal and business reasons. I also enjoy a good debate and a little glamour into the bargain sounds like my cup of tea.

Organised by the fabulous Tess Hartmann of Hartmann Media, we are all in for a great event.

If you are a strong women who also believes in a United Britain, then this may be the event for you. Networking with other ladies with real intellectual debate on the menu! May also be some tea in the goodie bags……

If so then contact Tessa Hartmann on tessa@hartmannmedia.co.uk

Mamapreneur Business Woman

Is Diversity the key to Innovation?

Last week was a week of exploring diversity. I attended the Women’s Business Forum in Harrogate as a guest of RBS. This was a conference exploring diversity in the corporate world and looking at some of the practical solutions to help more women get to the top and get on to boards. Later in the week, I met with the Chief Executive of Corporate Banking, Chris Sullivan and other senior members of RBS, as well as some inspiring Scottish female entrepreneurs to discuss female entrepreneurship in Scotland.

To my mind, the low numbers of females in the board-room and the low numbers of female entrepreneurs are linked. These are two sides of the same coin. Lack of confidence is a recurring theme for both females in business and females in the corporate world. I am a confident woman but I have had my confidence severely knocked both in the corporate world and as the CEO of my own business. That doesn’t mean to say there is something wrong with me or that I have to act like one of the boys to get on. No, I think it is linked to a much deeper issue. It is one of CULTURE.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a bra-burning feminist. I am not bemoaning my lot. I am not using this as an excuse because I can’t be bothered working hard. Far from it. I need my bra, I have a brain and I work extremely hard. But I am also a mother. Yes, women have the babies. And a lot of women feel that they should put their family before their career and their business. That is exactly natural. But WHY should we have to choose? We have to choose because of CULTURE.

We have a culture in the Western world that does not accommodate diversity. Often it is dominated by white males. Whether that is in our board rooms or on the investment panels of the people I am hoping to impress for an investment. It is not a culture that supports the flexible working/creative working/confidence building building bricks that we need to have a truly diverse culture. We have a diverse society. Women and men, we are all from different backgrounds, straight or gay, white or black. The human race is diverse. It has to be. This is not about bashing white males, we need them! We just need everyone else too!We HAVE a diverse society already – we just need to support it in a DIVERSE CULTURE.

Sylvia Ann Hewlett( President of the Center for Talent Innovation in New York) talked a lot about the link between diversity and innovation last week. She also spoke about the problems caused by no diversity of thought – “group think”. She has participated in studies showing that a diverse board affects the bottom line as diversity of thought leads directly to innovation.

Looking at diversity of thought, I think we see a fantastic argument for chipping away at the lack of diversity so prevalent in our culture. Diversity contributes to ideas and there is a real connection between diversity and innovation. Creativity and innovation are key to growing our economy, creating entrepreneurship and growing sustainable profitable companies. If we can only start to see more diversity across the whole of our culture, then what will the future look like? Innovative, creative, expansive and exciting. This isn’t a “women’s” issue. It is an evolutionary issue.