Big Female Energy: International Women’s Day 2021
8 March 2021 - Imran Ali

At Impact Hub Bradford, Big Female Energy is baked right into everything we do and every person in the organisation.

Our core belief in women as social innovators is guided by the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals – notably Gender Equality (Goal 5) and Reducing Inequality (Goal 10).

In line with Bradford Council’s Economic Strategy, we also believe that women, young people and minority communities are the most underserved and most promising entrepreneurial voices in the city; and so we have a deep belief that women are fundamental part of our hometown’s future prosperity:

Social enterprises are more likely to have female leaders
Social Enterprise UK 2019 Report

– To shape a sustainable and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, we need to include the voices of female social entrepreneurs.
– Eight our of 10 media reports worldwide are about men: only two of them have women as their focus.
World Economic Forum 2021

– Women owned businesses contribute £105bn to the UK each year. They have the potential to contribute an additional £250bn if women started and scaled a business at the same rate as men.
– Only 39% of women feel confident they have the skills to start their own business… compared to 55% of men.

The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship

Globally, women are a third more likely than men to work in a sector or industry shut down by coronavirus.
The Guardian, February 2021

But belief is just one part of affecting change; action and impact are how we understand whether our beliefs are making the desired changes. We’d love to share how Impact Hub is taking on the inequalities highlighted above and clearing a path for the brightest, most talented and ambitious women in our circles:

Our Leadership

Our board of trustees is 50% female, with two accomplished women – in Zahra Niazia and Lauren Croll – with an incredible legacy of social impact. In Mandip Sahota and Alex Chisholm, 50% of our past and present founding team is represented by talented and storied women who have shaped our thinking on social impact.

Our Advisory Board

Our informal advisory group is 25% female, and in Kersten England and Syima Aslam, we’re supported and guided by two of the most significant women in Bradford’s recent renaissance, responsible for shaping the city’s civic and cultural conversations.

Our Members

Our membership – both past and present – is overwhelmingly female at just over 70%. We’ve seen some wonderful examples of socially impactful enterprises emerge from our members – from Catherine Simes’ digital Bradford Street Market, to Fozia’s Naseem’s Hop On cycling club, to Madiha Ansari’s Cultural Ecology Project and Asma Elbadawi’s Words & Lenses. Each of these ventures has sought to either create a platform and opportunities for others to thrive, to up-skill others or to overcome structural and cultural barriers in society. We’re immensely proud of our members achievements and they underline why women are fundamental to social impact.

Our Associates

Our newly recruited Associates network is 47% female, with a diverse cross section of accomplished and talented professionals who’ve worked at the forefront of social impact over many years and in individuals like Ogunte’s Servane Mouazan foregrounding and supporting the world’s most talented female entrepreneurs:

“Everywhere in the world, women are more likely to work in industries hit hardest by the pandemic, but equally, and currently, women also innovate, invest, create, speak out. If we want to imagine a new, better world, we have to make space for all to contribute to the best of their ability, creativity, and sense of connectedness. Women are part of that equation. To get there, we need a world that understands that women’s impactful and intersectional contributions, as entrepreneurs, as community members, as investors, help us all flourish, now and in the future.
Servane Mouazan, Ogunte

Our Programmes

Our recent programmes have seen a majority of applications from women, with 72% for GROW and 50% for SUSTAIN. Though we’re still in the selection stages for SUSTAIN, the cohort for GROW saw 81% representation for women in the final selection with participants such as Sheena Hussain, Asma Elbadawi, Carolyn Mendelsohn and Sobia Naseem going on to level up their ventures.

Lastly, we see our role at Impact Hub Bradford as holding the space not only for the women of our present and future, but as custodians of the stories of women who’ve shaped our city: from the Brontë sisters literary heritage; Margaret McMillan’s contribution to child welfare; the city’s first Jewish Mayor Olivia Messer and her work in building a fund for victims of the Bradford City fire; suffragette Julia Varley and finally Ruth Ibegbuna, founder of RECLAIM and the Roots Programme, bridging divides between British communities.

Bradford has an abundance of Big Female Energy; an authentic, ethical and humble confidence in the service of others – which has been and continues to be the bedrock for social innovation and social impact in the city and the wider world.

We’re privileged to be in the company of wonderfully talented women and we’ll continue to #ChooseToChallenge the remaining inequalities faced by women in our communities.