On the money trail

Finance for female-led business is a hot topic. In November, the government started an investment fund targeted at women. Here, female entrepreneurs tell us how they raised finance.


Finance for female-led business is a hot topic. In November, the government started an investment fund targeted at women. Here, female entrepreneurs tell us how they raised finance.

Finance for female-led business is a hot topic. In November, the government started an investment fund targeted at women. Here, female entrepreneurs tell us how they raised finance.

Cheryl Hadland, founder of Reside Care Homes

I started Top Days Nursery 19 years ago by re-mortgaging the house to raise money and got about £10,000.

Around 2000 I also got a small business loan to set up one of the nurseries for about £20,000.

At the moment, if I wanted to expand I couldn’t. My bank manager has told me ‘I know you’re a good company, but don’t even bother asking for finance now.’

I wouldn’t want private investment either, because I don’t want to give away part of my company.

As far as funds aimed at female entrepreneurs are concerned, I don’t feel that I need separating from men.

However, I did have a problem with a bank manager who was a real chauvinist. When I brought a male friend into the meeting, he directed all his questions toward him and told me I shouldn’t expand further.

As a consequence, I changed banks and successfully grew the business.

Donna Hill, founder of BH PR & Design

When I founded the business I borrowed roughly £10,000 from my family and started by working from home.

I decided not to use bank loans because I didn’t want to get in a bad debt situation. I managed to pay my debt off within 18 months and there was no pressure to deliver and raise a certain amount each month – which is not always conducive to being creative.

Currently, I’m trying to get funding through the regional development agency for my new business Kiss Design, and am really having to jump through a lot of hoops.

In terms of loans aimed at women, I don’t think there should be anything specific for either males or females, but I do think there should be more publicity for the loans available. There are funds, it’s just knowing where to get them.

Rachel Holmes, founder of fitness company Choreography To Go

I set up my fitness company 20 years ago, and used my own money which was about £3,000 to £4,000.

Since then it’s been self-financed. Seven years ago I got an HSBC loan of £2,000 to launch the online arm of the business. It was really easy to get because the company had such a good track record.

The current lack of credit does worry me as I recently applied for a credit card and got turned down, even though I have a good record.

I think more support in general for female businesses would be a really good thing. As my business is quite female oriented, it would have been helpful to have spoken to a woman at the bank who might have appreciated what it was about.

Kavita Oberoi, founder of healthcare advisory firm Oberoi consulting

Because I was essentially selling my own time, the major start-up cost was buying a laptop and car, which I was able to self-finance through my own savings.

Recently, I have diversified into a conferencing business and bought two new properties for £1.1 million, and I’ve got a mortgage for that because of the tax benefits.

Funds aimed at women are a useful idea, but it all depends what you need the money for.

For me, not using loans from the start was a conscious decision, because I didn’t want to be indebted. That’s just an in-built approach that I’ve had from a very young age.

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