For the fifth year, Pink Shoe held its International Forum for female founders and business owners. In partnership with the Enterprise Research Centre and Addidi at the Warwick Business School in The Shard.
With the focus this year on technology, 100 delegates from across the world of business met to discuss how to encourage more women to scale their businesses.
Professor Stephen Roper and Helene Martin Gee welcomed guests then handed over to our Forum Chairman Julie Baker.
We enjoyed the first keynote from Thaima Samman, President of our sister network European Women in Leadership, in conversation with Dr Maggie Semple OBE, herself an entrepreneur and senior public appointee.
Following this we had a great presentation from Stephen Roper on 'The State of Small Business Britain' with insights on enterprise and SMEs across the UK. The morning continued with a conversation between Anna Sofat, founder of Addidi and Sarah Matthew, serial entrepreneur and investor who recently set up Vibrant.
Finally, Leadership Director Vanda Green spoke with two BoardAble alumnae Loraine Midda MBE and Tracey Bleakley, CEO of Hospice UK, on their experiences of the programme and how it is helping with their Board and NED roles.
Julie Baker brilliantly summed up a packed morning before we adjourned for a networking lunch.
In the first afternoon session Jill Pay updated delegates on progress for the UK Economic Blueprint and Rebecca Hill gave an insight into work with University of East London on creating a data repository, and some innovative research into the female enterprise ecosystem.
Then two lively tech presentations from Sarah Rench of EY, along with her robot! And a fascinating insight to Blockchain strategy from Dell's Nkiru Uwaje. Ellen Donnolly of The Bakery, London shared the inside track on gaining investment, what investors are looking for, how to prep for the pitch and get investment-ready.
Delegates were randomly allocated to 8 discussion groups to come up with a big idea for the Economic Blueprint White Paper to be published in partnership with NatWest in 2019.
Fiona Capstick and Cheryl Martin of EY led discussions on how technology can be used by and for SMEs; with Nkiru Uwaje debating technology too but with a specific focus on Blockchain.
Rebecca Hill's group discussed female-friendly support; Cheryl Gourlay and her delegates considered the Treasury Review and how to boost female enterprise; Lan O'Connor chaired a discussion on Procurement; Ellen Donnolly's group focused on making an entrepreneur more investable; while Lola Owolabi's discussion focused on balancing social and economic impact of business.
Each group shared its outcomes with all the delegates and we were blown away by so many creative and new ideas! An ace panel chaired by Sarah Pennells with Dr Yvonne Thompson CBE, Anna Sofat, Stephen Roper and Sarah Rench gave feedback to each group.
Findings will be published in the 2019 White Paper. Meanwhile, a report on #FQ5 ideas and outcomes is available from firstname.lastname@example.org