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International Women's Day: Celebrating Female Founders

Founded by Sara Roberts in 2014, Healthy Nibbles is a female-headed business whose employees are also 71% women; the team are always encouraged to develop their skillset to enhance career growth and achievements are always celebrated. 

Healthy Nibbles is driven by the desire to make a positive impact and contribution. The team are welcomed, nurtured and celebrated for who they are as authentic individuals. We seek to do the same with our supply chain.  

When purpose and passion are the driving force behind a vision, it overshadows fear. IWD 2021 is opportunity to take stock of the progress made, whilst generating momentum for future change – we are still a long way off  gender parity. Female representation should not be a nice to have, but a business essential. From investment ROI to start up success rates and profitability- diverse workforce and boards lead the way."

 Although Crunchbase (2019) discovered that the number of female-founded companies has doubled since 2009, at the same time, Alison Rose’s Review of Female Entrepreneurship found that only 32% of all UK entrepreneurs are women. We all have a role to play in supporting women from a young age in order to inspire and empower, enabling them to feel confident in their abilities to lead and succeed in whatever career path they choose. To mark International Women’s Day 2020, we wanted to celebrate the great achievements of some of the amazingly talented female founders we collaborate with in order to do what we do and provide healthier choices to our much-valued customers.

Creative Nature is an allergen-safe snack company that makes delicious healthy snacks, baking mixes and superfoods that are always free from the top 14 major allergens. Julianne Ponan, Founder of Creative Nature, suffers herself from anaphylaxis and started the business with a desire to create a solution and make the lives of those living with allergies that bit easier:

“It is interesting that statistics show that male SME’s are 5 times more likely to scale up to £1M turnover than their female counterparts and for every £1 VC investment in the UK all female founder teams get less than 1p yet male teams get 89p. My dad always used to say you need to work 10x harder than others… I have faced numerous things along my journey from being called a ‘little girl’ to being advised to take a male counterpart to investor meetings to be taken more seriously. However even though I did have a little cry, this gave me even more drive. 

I feel that as a female I bring a new dimension, new outlook to my business that thrives on connecting on an emotional level with our customers, it also makes me feel empowered to be fighting alongside amazing women for equality! I have met so many incredible women including Sara, Founder of Healthy Nibbles, and when you collaborate and support with others, wow what a force we are to be reckoned with.”

Modern Standard is a speciality coffee roaster that truly cares about great coffee – from source to the cup - and are committed to making the most ethical decisions, always taking the environment, their farmers and the recycling process into account. Lynsey Harley, founded Modern Standard in 2015 out of frustration, and saw value in bridging the gap between speciality and commercial roasters:

“There's many people in the coffee industry who have commented saying how inspiring it is that I've started a successful business in quite a male dominated industry. So, I take that, and make sure that I offer help to other women who want to take the leap and go out on their own. I honestly believe that women really see things in a different way to men, and I think in business that gives us an edge, a bit like a left-handed tennis player is a hard opponent to play. We need to support and encourage our fellow female led businesses, as that positive momentum needs sustaining so that in future it is easier and more of the norm than it is now.

One of the best things I did was the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business programme, as I met a diverse group of people, who ran very diverse businesses. The course is free and runs several times a year, I would recommend to anyone running a business to apply, it was a wonderful learning and networking experience.”

Made from ancient super grain sorghum, Insane Grain are delicious crispy and melty gut-friendly puff snacks containing more potassium than a banana and up to 1.8x more iron than spinach! Founder Rushina Shah previously worked in brand management at Proctor & Gamble before taking the plunge into creating Insane Grain at the start of 2020. Rushina supports female entrepreneurs through her role as a Virgin Start-Up Mentor, helping to fix the disparity that exists between female and male entrepreneurs:

In the UK, for every 10 male entrepreneurs there are fewer than 5 female entrepreneurs. That needs to change, and it is up to those who have done it before to support the next generation of female entrepreneurs and show them that it is possible. As the Rose Review found, up to £250 billion of new value can be added to the UK economy if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men. Research carried out by McKinsey & Co. also found that Companies with the greatest gender diversity on their executive teams are 21% more likely to outperform on profitability and 27% more likely to create superior value.

My business has been through a number of funding rounds and in the initial stages, I felt the imposter syndrome that I’m sure many women experience. I pushed through this feeling and realised that I deserved a seat at the table just as much as anyone else and that my experience rather than gender should be the reason as to why I secured the funding. My advice to other women going through funding rounds is that when someone tells you that something isn’t possible, they are stating their own limitations and not yours so prove them wrong.”

Pri’s Puddings, founded by Priyanka Savjani, was created out of a struggle to satisfy her sweet tooth after developing dietary intolerances. Pri saw potential in creating delicious vegan, gluten free and refined sugar treats and gave up her job as a business consultant to focus in on what she really was passionate about, wholefood confectionary:

In my eyes, an entrepreneur doesn’t have a gender or a label, and it is down to female founders of our generation to break the barriers that women face in a traditionally male dominated business world. Being an entrepreneur is not an easy ride regardless of gender, but being a woman potentially makes the journey to owning a successful, high growth, sustainable business even more difficult. Only 1 in 3 UK entrepreneurs are women and it is down to our generation to change the unconscious bias, change the statistics and break the barriers.

Finding a tribe and a sense of community can be really empowering. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey in its early stages and having a network or community to share experiences and ideas on how to overcome challenges can give you the confidence, reassurance and learnings you need.”

Sometimes, simple words of encouragement and love can go a long way in boosting someone's confidence and inspiring them to keep going. Make sure to check in on the important women in your life, not just today, but always - let them know how awesome they are.