The female-run businesses that empower women
While only one in three UK entrepreneurs is female, girl bosses are more likely to be involved with a social enterprise than men. Put simply, women are more likely to start up organisations that are aiming to change the world for the better.
Some women also like to pay it forward to their fellow females, creating businesses and products that help other women not so fortunate as themselves. Here are a few of our faves here at This Girl Is On Fire:
At first glance, a dating app may not seem something that empowers women, but its creator was keen to create a dating experience that was female friendly. Whitney Wolfe Herd created Bumble after leaving Tinder, which she co-founded, and who she sued for sexual discrimination.
Tagged the feminist Tinder, Whitney was keen to create an app where the women were in charge. On Bumble, men are not allowed to send the first message and women must initiate the conversation with their matches, or else they disappear.
There’s a strictly zero-tolerance approach to sexist comments on the app – one male user was banned because after suggesting a woman was only after him for his money!
Recognising that not all women want romantic relationships, Bumble also offers friendship matches and Bumble Bizz creates professional networking matches.
This female-first outlook also extends to Bumble’s workforce, which is 80% female and provides services from blow-drys and manicures to private breastfeeding suites for mums.
This mother and daughter-run company creates beauty products that combine the sensuality of the Middle East with Japanese sophistication. The products range from beautifully crafted soaps to the most divine smelling body and hair oil, all packed with natural goodness and essential oils.
All the products are made in Lebanon and in conjunction with the United Nations Development Programme, Senteurs d’Orient have created the Senteurs Women Initiatives that aims to educate and empower women in Lebanon. The also hire local Lebanese women to help produce their gorgeous products, paying them a fair wage and helping them to gain confidence and professional skills.
It’s a simple premise, but it works. Smart Works, a UK charity, provides high quality interview clothes, alongside interview training to help unemployed women get back into work.
Run by a completely female board, this is a charity that gets results – 64% of their clients go on to get the job, while 94% of women who visited Smart Works said their confidence had increased significantly.
Their fashion-led list of patrons includes names such as Betty Jackson and former Topshop and Whistles CEO Jane Shepherdson, and this year, they got their first royal patron in the shape of the very stylish Meghan Markle. She recently designed a Smart Works capsule collection, which featured essential work items such as a crisp white shirt. For every item bought during the sale, one was donated to Smart Works.
As well as volunteers, Smart Works is always looking for clothing donations, plus their big shopping event is coming up next month where you can pick up some amazing designer buys, so there are lots of ways for all us women to get involved!
So Just Shop is a marketplace selling accessories, jewellery, gifts and homeware created by woman-led artisans from some of the world’s most vulnerable communities – think Not On The High Street with the added benefit of helping others.
It was started by Jennifer Georgeson who, having worked worked in international development, was aware of the impact poverty had on communities as a whole. Her aim with So Just Shop is to raise 250,000 women and their families out of poverty by selling the items they produce, which are all handcrafted and totally unique. It’s a great place to buy those gifts that no-one else will have!
Started by uni friends Leah and Nikki, OHNE aims to break down the taboo around periods by banishing images of roller-skating women and also providing bleach-free, organic tampons to their customers. It’s super simple to use – log on and create a box that suits your flow and period length.
Their desire to make a real change to period stigma doesn’t stop there. They’ve also teamed with up The School Club in Zambia to provide young girls the health and menstrual education they need, hygenic toilet blocks plus all the tools and materials so they can make reusable sanitary pads.
They’re basically enabling these young girls to navigate their periods in a way that’s never been available to them before now. They give 1% of their revenue for every month someone subscribes to OHNE, ensuring these girls have one less issue to deal with as they grow up.
Secret Projects was founded by Fritha as a small entrepreneurial project. She began making and selling Secret Pillows – cushions that unfold into cosy quilts – and then expanded her range into other areas. But there is so much more to the products than being multi-tasking wonders. Fritha decided that this was her chance to give back to women on the other side of the world and so started working with women in India, training them to make the products.
When you buy a Secret Projects product you’re not only getting a wonderful item of craftsmanship but you’re also helping those women in India gain financial independence and confidence and providing them with a sense of entrepreneurship.
This month, we’ve teamed up with Secret Project to give away one of their gorgeous Ikat secret scarves – enter here!