Skills CFA, the UK’s largest provider, registration and certification authority for apprenticeships and worked based education, were delighted not only with the sheer numbers of apprentices graduating at this year’s Advanced and Higher Business Skills ceremony, which took place on Wednesday 19th November at the Central Hall Westminster, but also with their guest speakers who awarded the graduates.
Guest post by Zaheer Anwari, part of The NextWomen Finance Theme.
With the current economic climate in the dire situation that it is in, women are increasingly looking into other avenues to generate an income. This may be to supplement a salary that they are earning, or, for the more inventive and entrepreneurial amongst you, to find a way to earn an income which fits in with your lifestyle.
Forex trading is one such avenue that people are turning to but, as is a well-known fact in the trading world, only 5% ever make a success from it.
Leadership became a hot topic in the 1970s, and both the business world and the academic world have been busy discussing it ever since. We are bombarded from all sides with books, articles, training courses, surveys, conferences. If you do a Google search on “Leadership” today you will get over 500 million results worldwide, and over 16 million for the UK alone. Amazon.co.uk offers close on 19,000 books on the topic.
So, what is the definition of Leadership? There are many! John Adair, one of the world’s leading authorities on leadership and leadership development, has this to say: ‘Leadership, like all personal relations, always has something unknown, something mysterious about it’.
(Tall, Blond, Smart, and Rich)*, Dale Murray founded a business, sold it to a bigger entity, than acted as a CEO and sold that business as well – she is now an angel investor and has invested in various businesses, including women-led businesses. Time to talk with The NextWomen about investing in entrepreneurs.
Q: Entrepreneur or Investor? What's your preference?
DM: To be fair, it depends on the opportunity.
Being an entrepreneur gives you full control over the quality of your product or service and the way in which your business grows, however you never have a day off!
Being an investor can give you more freedom over your time and has the advantage that you are involved in many businesses, however it's not up to you to grow the business - that's the Founder's job and they must be left to get on and do this.'
Q: When do you invest? Based on intuition, personality entrepreneur, financials? Or based on advice of others? Tell us more...
DM: I invest in early-stages - when a business is forming and may even be pre-revenue. I only invest in businesses that have a strong, unique business proposition that is supported by an excellent management team. The product or service must be defensible, the margins must be good and the team must have a sizeable edge over the competition. Finally, there must be a clear exit route for the business.
'Entrepreneurs must invest the time in their business planning, including detailed and thoughtful financial projections; they must be forced to think hard about how they will market their product and how they will build their team.'
Q: How much $$$ ££££ do you invest each time?
DM: Somewhere between £50k - £250k. I complete a lot of due diligence to ensure that the business is right for me,
so anything less than £50k is not worth it.
Q: And when an entrepreneur does not perform as well as you thought, what do you do?
DM: 'I have learned that resourcefulness is a core skill that a good entrepreneur must tap into all the time. I work with my entrepreneurs to see how things might need to be changed, what resources could be applied differently, whether the business model needs to shift, etc. It is rarely as simple as throwing more money at the issue and I would always challenge all aspects of a failing business plan to determine where improvements can be made.
Occasionally, an entrepreneur is not up to the job, and in that scenario serious planning needs to be undertaken to determine how best the business can continue with him/her in a different role or, worst case, out of the business completely.
Q: How many business plans do you read, and how do you read them?
World Leaders unite today in Davos for the World Economic Forum, a five day conference in which the most pressing issues facing the world are discussed. This year it is entitled "Shaping the Post-Crisis World." Business leaders, executives, politicians, intellectuals and journalists are expected to talk about the economic crisis and how to get through it, but they also due to cover topics such as environmental damage, corruption, energy or health. Themes can be found here.
Attendees in the forum have historically been primarily men, but this changed when Aude Zieseniss de Thuin founded the "Davos" Women's Forum for the Economy & Society in 2005 to promote a women’s vision on the economic and social issues of the world.
This year, these are the women that will be at Davos:
The NextWomen Social Entrepreneurship Theme
In India, there is no shortage of talented female social entrepreneurs. Women like Ela Bhatt, who in 1972 founded SEWA, the world’s first and largest trade union for undocumented women workers, as well as Women’s World Banking in 1979 - have been inspiring and leading women for generations.
Hina Shah, founder of The International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Career Development (ICECD), has worked for over 25 years on scaling micro, small, and medium size businesses across 21 states of India.
Just about everyone reading this will be familiar with WordPress: it’s the behemoth on the content management scene, employed by millions of blogs and web publications large and small alike. The Next Web runs on WordPress, as do most of our competitors, and these days you have to look a little harder to find sites that run on the giants of the past such as Joomla! (formerly Mambo) and the perpetual underdog, Drupal.
Last weekend, more than 1000 thought leaders came together to discuss the Economy and Society from a female perspective. Unlike the Davos Global Forum, in Deauville powerful women are in the majority at the fifth international Women's Forum for the Economy and Society. Its motto is:
"Think again, think ahead! It is time for action, change and hope".
There were many international speakers unveiling their ideas on politics, entrepreneurship, economics; a lot of the time about the effects of the financial crisis, but also on the chances and opportunities that it brings. Among the speakers - 17 Rising Talents of 2009 - was Founder of Smarta, Shaa Wasmund.
Some conclusions from the forum were:
Women are Hit Hard by the Financial Crisis
It may be that women-led hedge funds have performed better in the financial crisis than hedge funds run by men - as was one of the conclusions of a Report launched at the Women's Forum - and yet women and girls in poor countries have been hit the hardest by the implosion of banks thousands of miles away.
The developed world has received far more funding to combat the crisis, in comparison to that received by the worlds poorest countries. As a result, women now need similarly large-scale solutions, including access to capital and to larger markets, to combat the crisis.
"The ground has shifted beneath the feet of our business models and social and economic policies”, explains Founder and CEO Aude Zieseniss de Thuin. "The Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society views moments of rupture like this as an opportunity to advance new ideas, technologies and even paradigms for society and the economy. With their male counterparts, women have a key role to play in the process of creating a more resilient future," the Founder of the Women’s Forum said.
Empowering Women makes Financial Sense
Discussed at great length, was the idea that empowering women economically is not just a matter of fairness, but of financial sense.