Tuesday, September 20, 2016

For Irene Afful, Perseverance Is Her Business Motto!

Irene Afful is a woman with a whole lot of experience! All of which she is using and utilising as she launches herself into the world of self-employment with her business; Ametrine Enterprise Solutions, which could be described as a coaching and consultancy business, but is so much more than just that!

Irene has 30 years’ experience working in public sector organisations, including 25 years with the Police Service. She has worked on a national platform advancing the leadership, equality and diversity agenda and has amassed a wealth of experience, qualifications and skills along the way!


As well as this she is a trained mediator with over 12 years’ experience managing workplace disputes. She also designed and led the Phoenix Leadership Programme, a positive action initiative which successfully targeted the recruitment of under-represented groups within Merseyside Police, was nominated and shortlisted for the National Diversity Awards 2016 in the category of Female Role Model AND Irene has a Master’s Degree in Police Leadership, specialising in organisational culture, equality and diversity! Now that is one impressive business owner!

Irene’s business, Ametrine Enterprise Solutions aims to advise on diversity strategies and addressing the underrepresentation of minority groups at all levels of organisations. As well as this, Irene will also offer personal life coaching and performance coaching for employees, and mediation services too!

Prior to starting her own business Irene was a Detective Inspector for Merseyside Police and was the first black, female Inspector in the history of this organisation. But she had always had ambitions to work for herself; ‘I have always worked in the public sector and have had to answer to a supervisor or manager. I wanted to only answer to myself and choose my own hours so I could spend quality time with my son. I also wanted to prove to myself that I can do this and make it a success.’

So Irene got in touch with The Women’s Organisation and began working closely with our Business Adviser Francine Taylor to get Ametrine Enterprise Solutions off the ground! ‘I found the idea of writing a business plan really daunting! However after speaking to Francine I realised that it wasn’t that complicated and I was able to complete one! Francine was really supportive, motivating and knowledgeable about the many aspects of starting your own business. Her advice and support was invaluable in giving me the confidence to do what I have always wanted to do!’



But of course, starting your own business isn’t plain sailing! And Irene found herself with a lot on her plate at the start of her journey; ‘I am a single mum to a very active 8 year old boy so juggling his needs with my volunteering roles as well as full time work was challenging to say the least!’

‘I was planning on starting my business when I left my full time role with Merseyside Police. To this I set myself goals for what I wanted to achieve and by what date and also made lists daily! I didn’t always reach my targets in the time I’d set – but that’s life!’

Now Irene has just launched her business with Ametrine Enterprise Solutions opening on September 5th and although it is early days she has already had interest in her services! And it’s clear that for Irene, the best thing about running her own business is having that flexibility that she had always wanted! ‘I love being my own boss; it’s great that I am now able to take time off if I need to without having to apply for it.’

And how does Irene feel about what she has achieved so far? ‘I’m very proud of myself; I know I am capable of doing anything I can set my mind to. I am a passionate and determined women and my confidence has grown immensely since embarking on this adventure. My motto is – ‘Your perseverance is your measure of your belief in yourself’ – Keep persevering!’ 


Monday, September 19, 2016

Startup Direct & Enterprise Hub Invite Budding Entrepreneurs to Business Start-up Conference

This Wednesday budding business owners will descend on 54 St James Street for the Enterprise Hub Business Start-up Conference.  The conference offers FREE tickets to anyone living in Merseyside who is thinking about getting started in business. 



At the event two fantastic local business owners will be sharing their insights into how they went about starting their business, and offering advice on what to think about or avoid along the way.  Nick Bell from event partners Startup Direct will be talking about the government's Startup loans scheme and how fledgling businesses can utilise their help to access low cost finance.  Enterprise Hub Partners The Women's Organisation will host the event and bring everything together with workshops to step through what is involved in self-employment.  Enterprise Hub will be able to offer ongoing support to attendees who want to tap into additional mentoring and support to get their business off the ground. 

If you are a man or woman living in the Liverpool City Region (Liverpool, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens, Wirral or Halton) who is thinking about getting started in business, book your FREE ticket to the Enterprise Hub Start-up Conference here. 




Credit Control: Do you know who you are dealing with? Identifying the 'Can't Pay - Won't Pay'

Securing customers is a great milestone in business, but it all grinds to a halt if you can't get them to pay.  We invited local credit management expert Jean Clough to share her insight on how to keep money coming in, and how to seperate the 'will pay' from the 'can't pay, won't pay' crowd. Here are Jean's words of wisdom. 

Jean Clough, Credit Matters
OK, so you have put together “best practise” in your invoicing, credit control processes and procedures, but are you still at risk, and to what extent?

Behind every business is a person or people, do you know them?

Do you know who their customers are, and how effective is their own credit management?

So many businesses suffer a bad debt because their debtor has sustained one themselves and, being unable to trade through the loss, has ceased trading and created the domino effect.  If you have been a domino at some time, learn from the experience, don’t make it a mill stone around your neck, you have more important things to focus on, staying solvent yourself being the main one.

Then there are those who never intended to pay you from the outset, did you see that coming?

Those of us who pay our way through life, assume, wrongly sometimes, that others are the same, we judge by our own standards don’t we?  Yet the unscrupulous in society, who live by their wits, and prosper from fraud (in whatever guise) have no qualms about seeing your business go under, nor the personal impact of such a disaster. They simply don’t care.

Those bad debts hurt the most, knocking confidence in both yourself and your business, some people simply give up their dream, and that’s not acceptable to me and my business ethos.

Here are some key things to consider and warning signs to look out for that can save you stressful credit control situations in the future:

  • ·       Who posts cheques/bank receipts – can they identify anomalies? – has your customer suddenly changed identity?
  • ·       Part paid accounts – these can be a possible warning sign of cash flow problems
  • ·       Is your customer who they really purport to be – could you be caught up in money laundering?
  • ·       Leaving the debt too long to collect – could you be seen as a preferential Creditor? How do you feel about having to give that last receipt back?
  • ·       Is the workload to much for present staffing levels? Do they have the required skills to be effective?


·       Should you outsource, or bring in temporary staff
·       If your processes and procedures are not right, you will find yourself on the never ending circle of spending your profits due to poor controls or lack of staff training.  You firstly need to get your processes in place, and then ensure your staff are well versed in how to follow them through.  You might consider bringing an expert in to help you get everything in place. 


About Jean & Credit Matters
I offer a complete review of your business practise, bespoke to your sector, one size doesn’t fit all. I work alongside the business owner and their staff to put in place systems and procedures to protect you along the trading way. Empowerment is the name of the game here, and knowledge is a wonderfully empowering tool. It gives the person the confidence to tackle the most difficult of debtors, by knowing who they are dealing with.

I have used psychology in my credit management years to a great advantage, and have yet to meet a debtor who outwitted me. Because I make sure I know who I am dealing with
Even my own Clients!

Following good credit management practise along with the above, also puts you in a better position should you need to use the Legal route to obtain payment. A well presented case is more favourable to a Judge, than a lot of messy paperwork, and “he said, she said” arguments.  I offer first hour consultation free, and can provide a backup service bespoke to your needs
For more about Credit Matters visit www.creditmattersnw.com or contact Jean for advice on 07951 265820.




Jean is one of the enterprise experts who frequent the Entrepreneurs Clinic at Liverpool Central Library Business and IP Centre, along with Ali McGrath from our Business Advice Team, Councillor Gary Millar and other key business brains.  If you have a business query you can take advantage of the clinic which runs a drop in session each Thursday 1-4pm for a free 15 minute consultation.  

If you are in the process of starting a business and want some extra advice on where to begin and what else you will need to consider, contact the Enterprise Hub team on 0151 706 8113 or enterprisehub@thewo.org.uk 


From Freezers In Her Garden To Feeding 12,000 Mouths A Week! - Katy Elliot's The Nursery Kitchen

Toni Morrison was once quoted as saying; “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” – and we believe that this can be applied to all areas of your life and it’s a motto that Katy Elliot – founder and director of The Nursery Kitchen took on in 1998 when she started her own business.

Nearly 20 years ago, Katy who at that time was a single mother with two small children found that the quality of the food in her children’s day care nursery was not what she thought it should be. After speaking to the nurseries about this, she says; ‘They implied that if I could do better, then maybe I should.’ – This sparked an idea in Katy’s mind and The Nursery Kitchen was born – she was on a one woman mission to create and produce a range of delicious, home-cooked meals using the freshest local produce for babies and toddlers and to be supplied to nurseries.

And she’s succeeded! The Nursery Kitchen now feeds over 12,000 mouths a week and delivers to day nurseries throughout the UK. Katy manages a team of 12, has moved from her kitchen table to own premises, won awards for her achievements and is thinking of more exciting ways to expand and grow The Nursery Kitchen.

Katy told us; ’20 years ago there was not the help out there for single mums wanting to start a business. And I was really nervous at first! I had two small children and no childcare so at the beginning I made the decision to work from home so when my children weren’t in nursery I could care for them.’

Like most start-ups, one of the biggest barriers for Katy was financial – ‘I struggled to get finance from the banks as they viewed me as a single mum trying to start up a cottage industry from home’ and of course, like many of the women starting their own businesses, juggling different roles was a challenge for Katy; ‘I juggle so many different roles both within the business; managing staff, cash flow, customers, secretarial work and cleaning work too! And on the personal side of things, I’m trying to be a good mother of two, a friend, a daughter and a sister.’

But Katy is clearly fantastic at juggling as the business has gone from strength to strength over the years. In 2013 she moved the business from her house to premises. ‘At that point my house had 30 chest freezers in it and my garden was full of sheds!’ It was at this point that Katy began to expand her team, starting with 2 members of staff and growing to the 12 strong team that she has now.

Katy at Merseyside Women of the Year Award
2016 has been one very exciting year for The Nursery Kitchen! ‘At the beginning of the year we won a contract to start supplying weaning food to COOK who have over 90 retail shops. Our initial order was 18,000 meals which was so exciting for us and was our first venture into retail! We were also able to beginning delivering nationwide to nurseries and this has continued to expand.’

It was this year as well that Katy met our team at The Women’s Organisation and began working with us on our business growth programme; ‘We have not looked back since we met The Women’s Organisation. We’ve worked with Janine (Hyland – Business Adviser) and Ali (McGrath – Enterprise Enable) who have offered us help and advice on every aspect of the business! This included recommending a bank that would work with us; we switched banks, consolidated our loans and got a much improved interest rate which instantly saved us £400 a month! Janine and Ali have been superb and have always been on the end of the phone when we need them!’

This year has also been the year that Katy has achieved some fantastic recognition for all the hard work that she has put into her business since 1998. ‘I was nominated for the Merseyside Women of the Year Entrepreneur Award and to my amazement I actually won! I was told by my team that it was what I deserved for all the hard work I had put in over the years, which was lovely! The award now takes pride of place in our offices!’ As well as this Katy has also been shortlisted for the Businessperson of the Year Award at the Wirral Chamber of Commerce which will take place at the end of September; ‘It’s another great honour.’
The Merseyside Women of the Year Award
The Nursery Kitchen has some great plans for the future and Katy told us; ‘In October this year we will be launching our new range of ready meals which will appeal to all ages. Firstly we have our Pensioner Pots, which are not quite full adult portion sizes as we have found that as people get older a normal sized meal is too much – so we have developed this one pot range which can be put in a microwave or oven with just enough content.’

‘Then we also have our single portion and family sized portion ready meals, all these dishes are based on the same ethos as the children’s nursery food – locally sourced produce with no additives and cooked with care by our lovely team of chefs.’

And what advice would Katy offer to a woman who might be in the same position that she was nearly twenty years ago? Wanting to start her own business but not sure where to begin! ‘DON’T! Only joking! My advice would be to surround yourself with a good team who care about the product and are willing to work together. I would also say, take good financial advice and keep an eye on the numbers!’

‘I have worked hard to get to this point and have learnt things along the way – I would have done things differently looking back – but there wasn’t as much support out there when I started the business. I would say – keep preserving and it will happen – Don’t give up!’
If you would like to find out more about Katy and The Nursery Kitchen, you can do by using the contact details below!

Phone: 0151 345 0155
Email: katy@thenurserykitchen.co.uk


And if you’ve been inspired by Katy’s story and would like some support and advice to help you start or grow your own business, then get in touch with us – email us on hello@thewo.org.uk or ring us on 0151 706 8111



Friday, September 16, 2016

Helen Pankhurst Is Coming To Liverpool For A Very Special Event…

On Wednesday September 28th something very exciting is happening at The Women’s Organisation and YOU are invited! Helen Pankhurst, great granddaughter of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst will be visiting Liverpool for an in-conversation event with our CEO; Maggie O’Carroll – ‘What Would Our Great Grandmother’s Say?’


We will be celebrating how far we have come over the past 20 years in improving women’s economic development, speaking about the changes in women’s lives over the last century and of course, asking Helen – What would your Great Grandmother say?


Dr Helen Pankhurst is a women’s rights activist and senior advisor to the humanitarian and development agency CARE International, a Board Member of ActionAid, and a Visiting Professor at the LSE and at Manchester Metropolitan University. She works partly in Ethiopia supporting the development of programs focused on the interests and needs of women and girls. In the UK, she is a public speaker and writer on feminist issues.


Maggie O’Carroll is the CEO of The Women’s Organisation, the largest developer and deliverer of enterprise support targeting women in the UK. Maggie successfully started and grew her own management consultancy business in the early 1990’s and in 1996 she started The Women’s Organisation. Maggie has driven the creation of a £5.3m Women’s International Centre for Economic Development based in Liverpool hosting business support, incubation, education, and research, policy development and advocacy services.


Emmeline Pankhurst was a British political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement who helped women win the right to vote. In 1999 Time named Pankhurst as one of the 100 Most Important People of the20th Century, stating; ‘She shaped an idea of women for our time, she shook society into a new pattern from which there could be no going back.’


So on Wednesday September 28th – we are inviting you to be part of this very special event! A conversation with Helen Pankhurst and The Women’s Organisation CEO; Maggie O’Carroll – it’s the feminist event of the year – and we would be delighted to have you join us!

Tickets are just £5 and they are selling out pretty quickly already – so if you’d like to come along we suggest you move fast! All profits from this event will be donated to Helen’s charity CARE International




The Perfect Samosa Duo Are Taking The Foodie World By Storm!

We love our jobs most days, but there are some days that we love even more than most! And the day that we visited Kay Wadud from Perfect Samosa – the brains behind the most mind-blowingly delicious artisan samosa was one of those days! Kay has just moved into a commercial kitchen in Bootle and the W.O team thought this would be a great time to pay her a visit, and maybe sample a samosa or two…

The idea behind Perfect Samosa is to create a samosa with a twist and the fantastic ideas just keep coming! On Kay’s menu so far you can try; Bengali lamb with Sweet Potato infused in Cinnamon - ,AND wait for this…A full English samosa, and the one we’ve all been waiting for – a Nutella fudge brownie samosa! Yes, our mouths are watering just typing this!


Kay launched Perfect Samosa in January 2016 and from there it’s just snowballed – and we’re sure it’s because of the amazing, creative and delicious samosa’s that Kay and her team are creating! Kay told us; ‘I had no idea when I started it that this would happen. I knew that they were things that people loved but I never dreamed it would grow this fast.’ Within 9 months, Kay has moved from her utility room into purpose-built kitchens and is quickly building up a client basis across the North-West of the country.

Prior to setting up her own business Kay was a Police Officer and lived in Bedfordshire, before moving to Merseyside and working as a Business Analyst looking at Wirral Council’s digital strategies. ‘When my last contract came to an end I decided that I just needed a change. I knew I was employable but I kept thinking – what is it that I want to do? And making food, making people happy with food has always been a passion of mine!’


Once Kay had decided that she would take a leap into the unknown, she got in touch with The Women’s Organisation and began working closely with Business Adviser John Jones and Training Coordinator Bernie Cox, attending our courses and workshops and receiving ongoing support with her business plan. Kay has built up a close relationship with John and Bernie and has plenty of nice things to say about the advice and guidance that she’s received!

‘Bernie has been tremendous! When we first came we were taken aback by her Planning for Success course because it was so good! And John has been great – he’s been helping us with the numbers because he’s good at those! John is also there to bounce ideas off of, he’s been a fantastic help to us which I’m grateful for.’

Things have really started to get exciting for Kay in the last couple of months after they were crowned BBC Good Food Show Champions.

Kay’s daughter and Co-Founder, Sanya told us; ‘BBC Good Food Show Champions are showcased in an exclusive area of each Good Food Show enabling them to gain a unique platform in front of thousands of food enthusiasts, industry experts and chefs to celebrate and escalate their business.’ After visiting the London studios and cooking for the BBC Good Food staff and producers, Perfect Samosa were named Champions!


‘As this year’s Champions we are invited to attend all of the BBC Good Food Shows this year across the UK to events where celebrity chefs, top brands in food, other world-class producers and around 90,000 foodies (per event) attend in search of the next great thing in food.’ (You can check out Sunya’s full blog on this here!)

The unique part of Perfect Samosa is just how fresh every single element is! Whilst we were visiting Kay’s kitchen she was preparing her butternut squash and coriander samosa and told us; ‘I’ve brought everything fresh this morning, from the lamb to the vegetables and now we make it. After this it’s gets fried and then we package them and deliver them all over.’

Looking to the future of the business, Kay is focussing her energies on finding new contracts and leads and is looking forward to being able to employ a member of staff to help with the cooking. ‘I can get caught up in the operations side of things, so I want to get a bit more smart and have some help with the laborious side which is the cooking.’ – Already Perfect Samosa has contracts with Knowsley Council, Cheese & Co and various Farm Shops across the North West, and they have been visiting Farmer’s Markets and festivals all throughout the summer!

So, if you’d like to get your hands on the Perfect Samosa, and believe us, you do! Check out where Kay and her team are going to be next on Facebook and Instagram and on and take a look at their website if you’d like to get in touch!

If you've been inspired by Kay's story and would like some support and advice starting your own business, then get in touch with us! Email us on hello@thewo.org.uk or ring us on 0151 706 8111





Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Management Consultant Pamela Ball Explores the Over 50's Journey From Redundancy to Entrepreneurship

Pamela Ball
Management Consultant and member of The Women's Organisation's Business Club Pamela Ball has started to blog her business journey, using her own experiences to shine a light on the ever increasing breed of over 50's opting for entrepreneurship following redundancy. 

Pam's blog series " The Reluctant Entrepreneur The Over 50 Professional Redundancy, Redefinition and Enterprise" will explore: 

1.       Who are we?                   The new breed of workers  
2.       How did we get here?  The changing face of employment
3.       What next?                        Entrepreneur or employee  

Pam told us "This is the beginning of a blog series exploring the silent majority of the new generation of  over 50 professionals. No longer sure of a job for life, coping with a new world where made redundant at the point when we normally would think retirement, or simply the loss of a role due to the expiration of a traditional business model. This is the generation facing unplanned redundancy, retirement creeping further and further away.....and the task of discovering what this new generation of workforce may look like. Join me as I share my journey and learning  : about  redundancy,  about  discovering who we now are at this stage of life, and about what the new breed  of  entrepreneur may look like."

In her first post of the series Pam confesses "I never planned on being in my late fifties, redundant , without a clear plan of what next as I faced the fact I wasn’t 5- 6 years from retirement ,but more likely at least 10 -15 years away.  I was faced with a complex web of re-defining , not just what my next career move would be , but how the period of time originally earmarked for retirement was now definitively changing."

At The Women's Organisation we have noticed a growing trend of over 50's contacting us for advice and guidance around self-employment, in the main due to circumstances very similar to Pam.  It is great when people share their experiences as we can learn from one another, and also realise that we are not alone.

Click here to read the full first article in Pam's series. We will update you are Pam's journey continues and look forward to reading her insights.