Applications open for free female entrepreneurship programme

National Women’s Enterprise Week (NWEW), the first ever UK wide celebration of female led businesses, launches 19—23 June 2023.

The brainchild of entrepreneur Alison Cork MBE (also founder of not-for-profit ‘Make It Your Business’), NWEW aims to support and encourage female enterprise with a whole week of activities for both the general public and female entrepreneurial community.

Applications are open to win a place on a free two-day in-person incubator programme for female entrepreneurs, launched by Alison Cork MBE and involving mentors such as Dragon’s Den’s Sara Davies MBE and businesswoman, VC and wife to Rishi Sunak, Akshata Murty, among others.

The programme comes at an important time. While more female-led businesses were founded in 2022 than ever before, women-only led companies still just made up a fifth of these new corporations.

On top of this, only 1.1% of VC funding in Europe in 2022 was given to companies with female founders. While in some areas progress is being made, more women need to be empowered and, with 48% of women in business lacking competent advisors to guide them through entrepreneurship, more women need to be better supported. 

The incubator will be held from 20—22 June 2023 and falls within the UK’s first National Women’s Enterprise Week (19—23 June 2023), an initiative which looks to support and celebrate female-led British startups.

The Women's Launch Lab incubator programme will enable 12 female entrepreneurs to be part of an all-expenses paid bootcamp in London. Winners will be mentored and trained on different areas of business management and even pitch (Dragon’s Den style) to investors. During the day they will learn from inspirational, seasoned female entrepreneurs – such as Akshata Murty, Sara Davies MBE, Sahar Hashemi – founder of Buy Women Built, Alison Hall – CEO of fashion brand Sosander, Mariam Jimoh – founder and CEO of Oja – and in the evenings they will attend networking events and receptions at the British Library and House of Lords.

Alison Cork, MBE says: “Entrepreneurship is a life changing experience and one we must normalise in the UK, so that it is as natural a choice to become a business owner as it is to become a doctor or dentist. For women this also means levelling up the numbers, as currently only one in four businesses is female owned or led. Moreover, NWEW is focused on startups as opposed to scaleups, because it is the thousands of ‘acorns’, as opposed to the few ‘unicorns’ which make the biggest difference to peoples’ daily lives around the UK – the small business which may simply be a kitchen table concern, but which changes the life choices of its owner for the better.

“NWEW will also see the launch of our first Enterprise Incubator, Women’s Launch Lab, offering 12 places on our London bootcamp (20—22 June 2023) for female led early-stage startups – a once in a lifetime opportunity to take part in an all-expenses paid immersive incubator programme. Our powerhouse of female judges, speakers and mentors include: Sara Davies MBE, Founder Crafters Companion and Dragons Den, Sahar Hashemi, founder of Buy Women Built, Isabel Oswell, Head of Business Audiences, British Library Business IP Centre, Alison Hall, CEO of fashion brand Sosander, Mariam Jimoh, Founder and CEO of Oja, to name but a few who will be choosing and mentoring our 12 lucky winners of these free places.

“This three-day incubator will be intense. During the day our startups will hear and learn from innovative female entrepreneurs, growth and marketing strategists and financial experts. They will be trained to deliver their best pitch to secure investment. In the evenings they will attend networking events and receptions at the British Library and House of Lords. The programme will culminate with them pitching their idea to a panel of seasoned VCs and investors.

To enter, female led early-stage startups can sign up here. Entries close May 15th.