Five female entrepreneurs share their success stories

More than half of women (53%) lack confidence when it comes to running their own business, according to new research published as part of National Women’s Enterprise Week (June 17-21). While 51% of women stated they had the interest and desire to found their own business, it was someone aside from themselves that gave them the self-belief that they could do it. As more women seek autonomy and flexibility over their careers, mentorship and community programmes are crucial in ensuring women feel equipped and empowered to make the leap and pursue their goals.

Here, five women who have paved their way in the business world discuss what drove them to either start their own business or pursue a leadership role, and share their advice on how we can better support female entrepreneurs.

Amelia Peckham, co-founder of Cool Crutches: In 2005 I was involved in a serious accident which left me partially paralysed from my waist down and permanently reliant on crutches, I was 19 at the time. When there were no suitable crutches to support my injury long term my mum and I spotted a gap in the market and launched Cool Crutches selling comfortable, silent, safe walking aids to support long term conditions, injuries and disabilities.

We ran the business as a side hustle until 2021 when following maternity leave, I realised employment with young children and my disability was unsustainable. In pursuit of flexibility and work that made a genuine difference, I took it on full time. Working with female & disabled founder communities has been a game changer, Buy Women Built and The Lilac Review to name a few but I’ve also received phenomenal support from the British Library, Enterprise Nation, Natwest & Meta.

Alison Cork MBE, founder of National Women’s Enterprise Week and Make It Your Business: As a business founder in the 1980’s, I was acutely aware of two things – that I was likely to get further faster if I had autonomy over my own progress, and that there were very few women to mentor me along that journey. It is noteworthy that in 2024 women still feel that starting a business is a unique key to achieving their full economic potential parallel to a work life balance. In the same vein, mentorship now more than ever is needed to guide women on this path, because Britain can only achieve its full economic potential when women achieve theirs.

Tanya Channing, Chief People and Culture Officer at Pipedrive: I’ve always been fascinated by people and their diverse ways of connecting. At 17, I ventured to Japan to immerse myself in a culture that seemed so alien to me. This journey, coupled with studying Japanese at university, revealed a profound truth: human nature is universal. There are always ways to connect and understand one another.

Entering HR wasn’t planned but it ended up being an ideal match for my people-orientated interests. Starting at Red Bull and transitioning through varied industries—from marketing at Omnicom, retail at Burger King, and private equity at Worldpay, to tech at Pipedrive—I’ve learned that leadership is not an overnight achievement. Securing my Chief People and Culture Officer role was a result of relentless dedication to my purpose, and consistent hard work. Success is the by-product of integrity and honing your skills. For aspiring leaders, my advice is to stay true to your purpose, continually improve, and let your work speak for itself. Opportunities will follow.

Suki Pantal, founder of Suki’s Curries and Spices: I set up Suki’s Curries and Spices because, after moving to the UK from Delhi nine years ago for love, my dream of starting a family could not become a reality. Transitioning from a salaried professional in India to a business owner in the UK was a significant leap, driven by my passion for making something I loved, work for me.

Participating in the television series The Great Cookbook Challenge with Jamie Oliver in 2022 further fuelled my desire to elevate my culinary journey. Jamie Oliver stands out as a mentor. His enthusiasm and encouragement inspired me to take a leap of faith and fully commit to teaching, talking, and writing about Indian food. This not only led to the publication of my first cookbook, Garnish with Garam Masala, but has sowed the idea to launch my own line of spices and pastes.

Amina Alkazemi, founder of Amina AI: Many people find AI scary, but I see its beauty. Many people find AI complicated, but I know it can be simple. Many people think AI is expensive, but I know it saves money.

Within my family, I was the only one interested in technology and even as a child, I was the go-to person for fixing things whether it was a remote control or a broken computer. Luckily for me, growing up in Kuwait it wasn’t unusual for women to pursue computer science, and my family supported me in this journey.

In 2021, I moved to the UK to study at the University of Birmingham. I learned about innovation and creativity in Human-Computer Interaction and found the vibrant local community incredibly supportive of my journey.

Now, through designing AI systems that can make a positive impact in our world, I want people to see the beauty and value in AI and understand how it can help solve many of the problems facing us.