Business incubator sparks gender parity
The University of Wolverhampton’s business incubator, SPARK has recently achieved gender parity with the number of businesses being set by up by women now equal to those set up by men.
Located at the University of Wolverhampton Science Park, SPARK Incubator is committed to supporting entrepreneurial and creative endeavours by providing enterprising individuals and teams with the support and resources they need to be successful.
The start-up culture empowers women to be their own boss and pay their own salary, defining how they want to work and making the balance of career and family life easier. Over the years, SPARK has become adept at helping women to overcome discrimination in the wider environment. Entrepreneurship presents a path for women to close the pay gap and rise to leadership positions on their own terms.
Louise Hunter, Business Incubation Manager at SPARK Business Incubation Centre, said: “In recent years, more and more women are overcoming the myriad challenges to lead from the front. For a growing number of women, the fastest route to the top has been achieved by launching their own business. In the United States, the number of women-owned businesses have increased 74% over the past 20 years - 1.5 times the national average. Running their own company also offers the opportunity for women to collaborate with and hire other ambitious, like-minded women, creating the next generation of women in leadership roles.
“At SPARK we are inclusive to all and focus on the viability of the business idea encouraging flexible working, providing low-cost co-working space for part-time working and security. We have a diverse and ambitious group of female entrepreneurs spanning many different sectors including healthcare, mental health, wellbeing, creative design, social and community empowerment and finance.
“We believe that diversity in gender, culture, age and race fosters creativity and innovation. Men and women will inevitably have different experiences which shape their approaches to business. However, challenging each other and collaborating with people who think in different ways, breeds creativity and encourages innovative ideas that move organisations forward. Our business community is testimony to this.
“When women have the right support and resources, they can unlock their potential and become powerful leaders in their respective fields. Through our training and mentoring programs, we strive to empower women with the skills and confidence they need to succeed in the business world. By providing access to the required resources, we aim to create a level playing field and give women the chance to reach their full potential.
“At SPARK, we understand that the path to success is a journey, and we are committed to helping women along the way. We believe that when women have the right support and resources, they can make a real difference to the success of their businesses and contribute to the regional economy.”
Dominique Williams, CEO and Founder of RUOE CIC said: “Reach and Unite, Outreach Empowerment was founded on a mixture of work, academic and lived experience that helped me see the gaps in the child and adolescent support systems. I studied Health Studies and Health and Well-being at the University of Wolverhampton and then set up RUOE in SPARK Incubator which offers business support in a safe, secure and flexible environment enabling me to grow and, due to huge demand, expand the business supporting more children in need, broadening our service offer and open a second hub.”
RUOE won the award for ‘Third Sector Business of the Year’ at the Black Country Chamber Awards 2022.
Jemma Robinson, Director, Bluesky Cosmetics, said: “SPARK has been and continues to be the perfect environment for Bluesky Cosmetics Headquarters. The support we had from SPARK, particularly during the pandemic, allowed us to keep our business running at the most difficult time I think any business owner has ever experienced. We now operate a hybrid office/work from home model, a decision that was made really easy for us due to the flexibility and facilities offered by SPARK.”
Louise Twardowski, of SWAO Limited has experienced first-hand the business coaching and has found it hugely helpful. She said: “The knowledge, experience and the coaching style was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time. The subjects and actions discussed were completely tailored to me, my company and to the stage of development I am in. I have literally run with the insights and actions gained!”
To find out more about SPARK and our community of female entrepreneurs check out the website.
Picture caption: Dominique Williams, CEO and Founder of RUOE CIC, accepting the award at the Black Country Chamber Awards 2022.
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