Dr Ozlem Ozdemir, from the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Loughborough University London, visited UKCBC recently to give a presentation to the College’s top-up degree students on the barriers that prevent the progress of women entrepreneurs, and what can be done to alleviate them.

Dr Ozdemir has a PhD from the University of Chester and currently lectures at Loughborough. Her current research investigates the cultural impact and issues of being the first born child in woman entrepreneurs. Dr Ozdemir recently presented her work in the Global Research and Development Study Seminar in Dubai and was selected for the ‘Best Practiced Paper’ in March 2018.

In her presentation, Dr Ozdemir spoke to the students about what makes a successful entrepreneur and discussed a number of factors that have previously made and continue to make it difficult for women to start and run successful businesses. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2017 Global Report, early-stage entrepreneurial activity is gender sensitive due to a combination of cultural, societal and economic reasons. External factors affecting female entrepreneurs include business expansion and financing – “women experience greater difficulty than men do in securing resources to finance their businesses,” said the lecturer. Internal factors include age, marital status, motherhood, and the importance and influence of the family.

Real Life Entrepreneurs              

In the second half of her talk, Dr Ozdemir highlighted a number of entrepreneurs she has a high regard for, such as Cassandra Stavrou – the founder of up-market popcorn brand Propercorn – who left her job in 2009 at an ad agency to move back home at 26 and start her dream of owning her own business. Stavrou identified a gap in the market for a tasty-yet-healthy afternoon snack, and today her product ‘Propercorn’ is one of the fastest-growing snacks in the UK.

Another inspiring entrepreneur brought to the audience’s attention was Carol Gardner. After hitting rock bottom aged 52, – she was getting a divorce that left her with huge debt, had no job and was facing depression – Gardener was given the advice, “get a therapist, or get a dog.” After becoming the owner of an English bulldog called Zelda, she came across an annual Christmas card contest sponsored by the local pet store. Gardener entered a photo of Zelda in a Christmas hat with a funny tagline and took home first prize! This gave her the inspiration to create greeting card company Zelda Wisdom, which went on to gain the attention of Hallmark. In 2016 the company was valued at over $50 million and they have added gifts, clothing, jewellery, calendars and books to their products for sale.

“It’s Never Too Late!”

As well as providing information on the topic of entrepreneurship, Dr Ozdemir’s presentation aimed to motivate the students at UKCBC. The lecturer reiterated throughout the presentation that you’re never too old or too young to become an entrepreneur, telling the story of 81-year-old bodybuilder Ernestine Shepherd who didn’t set foot in a gym until she was 56. Shepherd was crowned the world’s oldest competitive bodybuilder in 2011 by the Guinness Book of World Records.

UKCBC’s Business and Management top-up degree students have the opportunity to study a module called ‘Enterprise: Creating Your Business’ during their course where they are able to prepare for their future business ventures. If you’re looking to study a higher education qualification at the College, call UKCBC’s course advisors today for friendly support and advice.

 

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