Business & Startups

Sahar Hashemi wants you to Buy Women Built –

Moving the dial

Women are under-represented in entrepreneurship. According to the Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship, published in 2019, only 5.6% of UK women run their own business. That’s compared to 11.2% of men.

The UK is particularly guilty. Earlier this year, Startups carried out research into just how poorly we perform as a country. We discovered that male-owned businesses in the UK get seven times more funding than those owned by women. Does this figure shock Hashemi?

“Absolutely,” she nods. “I can’t believe it in this day and age – it just shows you how much we need to change”.

Hashemi clarifies that the gap is not based on reality, but rather, “it’s about perception. People feel that women don’t make great entrepreneurs.”

There is a long list of factors that critics typically point to when explaining bias against women founders. Women tend to have more caregiver responsibilities and fewer savings. Some will be limited simply due to chauvinism.

Hashemi tells Startups she has never experienced these issues as a female founder. She submits another explanation for the divide: poor self-belief.

“Confidence is a huge issue”, she says. “If you feel the statistics are against you, no one will ever try.”

27 years ago, when Hashemi started Coffee Republic, she was aware that people would get to see a woman behind the international brand. It’s a perspective she hoped would dismantle the supposition that women are not suited for business.

“If you show how many people who’ve actually made it against the odds, who have gotten themselves on the shelves of a multiple supermarket, that’s how we encourage more [female entrepreneurs],” Hashemi contends. “When I buy a woman-built brand it makes me feel stronger.”

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