Two female entrepreneurs from Preston have successfully achieved an £11,000 cash injection after turning to a crowdfunding model designed to specifically support women launching innovative new business ventures.
Helen Kerray and Morgana Loze-Doyle will use the money to support the launch of WomanKind North – a one-day female empowerment event which will champion females from across the region, bringing together a panel of inspirational speakers, workshops and comedy to celebrate the power, grit and diversity of women in the North.
The entrepreneurial duo chose NatWest’s ‘Back Her Business’ to help boost their start-up which has been developed in partnership with Crowdfunder. The programme supports female entrepreneurs by helping and encouraging more women to start and fund their own businesses in the early stages. It forms part of NatWest’s wider commitment to reduce the gender gap when it comes to entrepreneurship, by supporting the creation of a further 400,000 female-led businesses by 2025.
Helen and Morgana, both from Preston, used the Back Her Business scheme to crowdfund £11,000, including a £5,000 bonus from NatWest for successfully reaching their target. The funds are being used to launch and build excitement for the unique event for women in the North.
The alternative financing model, which creates funding by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people via rewards linked to the project, is gaining momentum as start ups, creative ventures and charitable causes turn to the platform in place of loans with high interest rates. However, there’s a lot more to it than asking people to pledge some pounds, as Morgana, 35, explains:
“Securing finance and business guidance can be a huge hurdle for people who want to do something a little different so the crowdfunding model was a no brainer for us. The platform helps ambitious women realise their business goals.”
“The most successful crowdfunders are those that have a masterplan at the helm. We spent a great deal of time identifying our core audience and enlisting some close contacts to work with on supplying exclusive rewards such as early bird tickets and exclusive indie brand products so people couldn’t say no!”
“We were guided by the team at NatWest to ensure our pitch was multi-layered and came across as a genuine way of getting involved in something new. This really worked for us as we were completely against asking people for pennies alone and so allowing them to feel part of our start-up was essential and ultimately led to our success of hitting our goal.”
With the money raised, Helen and Morgana have now launched ticket sales for the WomanKind North event which will take place at Preston’s Ivory Tower on Sunday March 7th.
It is set to be a full day festival, celebrating female power, grit and Northern pride and aims to connect women with inspiring guest speakers and knowledgeable people from a cross-section of sectors from creatives to charity and business to leisure. There’s also interactive workshops, an indie marketspace and an afternoon of stand-up comedy is planned.
Co-founder of WomanKind North, Helen Kerray who is 37 from Walton-le-Dale, said: “The pledges received from our backers have really allowed us to invest in the event but also our business plan. It’s the key to opening up much-needed events which will give those in Manchester and London a run for their money.
“The crowdfunder by NatWest is so aligned to our vision of putting on a range of events for females in the North which can specifically focus on addressing their needs and interests, so we are really pleased.”
Back Her Business launched in March 2019 following NatWest’s Rose Review, which revealed £250 billion could be added to the UK economy if women started and scaled businesses at the same rate as men. The Government-backed report also highlighted that only one in three entrepreneurs are female.
Heather Waters, Enterprise Manager at NatWest said: “We launched the UK’s first female-only crowdfunding platform last year to support female entrepreneurs like Morgana and Helen through our industry-leading advice and mentorship. The number of women across the UK that Back Her Business has already supported is testament to the platform’s value and we will continue to support entrepreneurs across the city and wider region going forward.”