Six talented female entrepreneurs pitched their business venture ideas to an esteemed judging panel at the Female Founders Demo Day pitch competition, as part of the University of East London’s Diversity Drives Innovation Summit. The event took place on 31 May 2023 at the Docklands Campus.
In addition to UEL stakeholders, attendance included key members of the London entrepreneurship ecosystem community including Female Investment Consortiums, Angel + VC Funders, incubators and accelerators, livery companies, and corporate banking partners.
The event featured some of the incredibly diverse entrepreneurial talent at UEL. In total £10,000 in grants were awarded to the top three entries - composed of a generous support package from the University of East London and Ankh Impact Ventures, who partnered on the awards.
The Female Demo Day pitch competition aims to drive diversity within entrepreneurship by creating and supporting more diverse and innovative female entrepreneurs. With only one in three entrepreneurs being female, and one in every six businesses founded by those from ethnic minorities, Ankh Ventures and UEL are working together to showcase and support diverse, innovative founders.
UEL is proud to announce the three 2023 Female Founders Demo Day award recipients:
Ashlea Cromby - Education (Prof Doc) was awarded the top prize of £5,000 for her Mansimble Tea and Estate venture. Ashlea describes her business as, an ethical tea company, producing tea from the Kangra region of India. The business partners with the family-owned tea estates and its hand-filled cotton tea bags are currently selling to high-end hotels.
Nicole Ihemadu - BSc Computing for Business student, awarded £2,500 for her Uzuri Tribe venture. Nicole describes her business as a hair and beauty platform that uses AI to create a bespoke selection of products based on customer selection. The primary customer group is black women who are underrepresented in this industry.
Kiri Scamp - Business Management student awarded £2,500 for her Millér venture. Kiri describes her business as a beauty brand that provides multi-purpose, recyclable and sustainable make-up kits, as well as vegan and ethical makeup.
Grand prize winner Ashlea Cromby says to prospective programme participants,
Do what feels right for you and go with your passions. Think it through and know your numbers really well!"
As far as her biggest takeaway from this experience, Ashlea said, "The biggest takeaway for me was being on this journey with the other talented participants. We really got to know each other and support each other up to the event."
Pierre N. Rolin, Founder at Ankh Impact Ventures said, "Diversity is the key to innovation, and creating an ecosystem that supports and encourages diverse entrepreneurs is essential to developing impactful ideas. In 2021, female entrepreneurs received only 1% of venture capital investment in Europe, even though research shows that female founders perform better than men on many dimensions. AIV is proud to focus our investments on women-led businesses to leverage the proven strengths of female founders while addressing the gender investment gap".
We congratulate the other three entrepreneurs who made it to the challenging finalist stage of the competition and pitched for awards. For reaching this stage of the competition, they were each awarded £500. They included:
Ashantae Samuel- Maragh - BA Fashion Buying, Merchandising and Innovation.
Ashantae describes her company, ASSM Waves, as a sustainable fashion brand that uses recycled fishing nets and other materials to produce nylon. It is fashion clothing which promotes sustainability to Gen Z fashion led customers.
Angela Rixon - Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology MSc.
Angela describes her business, My Wisdom Company, as an online coaching, training and community programmes to female managers and leaders in corporate environments who feel unfulfilled and who are working in roles that do not align with their values. The programmes help them to establish how to be more authentic in their working careers.
Jasmine Shroder - Psychology MSc.
Jasmine describes her business as a trauma-based therapy programmes for women who are given a choice and understanding of the various types of therapies available for them. The current choices are limited, the NHS and mental health resources are scarce and do not provide the necessary range of therapy options.
The Female Founders Demo Day pitch competition was part of the Diversity Drives Innovation Summit - an inaugural event to showcase our best practice work in diversifying the talent pipeline within both careers and enterprise.
The Summit also featured a roundtable to launch the UEL Diversity Thought Programme Report and an Employer Partner Celebration where awards were presented to our Diversity of Thought Employer Partners.