University project helps Tower Hamlets women graduates in business

Tower Hamlets graduate Terri-Leigh Finnegan Picture UEL

Tower Hamlets graduate Terri-Leigh Finnegan Picture UEL - Credit: Archant

A group of aspiring women entrepreneurs have graduated from a university project run to help them launch businesses.

Sixteen would-be entrepreneurs graduated from the Make it Real project which was launched in February. It was funded by RBS Inspiring Women in Enterprise, UEL’s Centre of Excellence for Women’s Entrepreneurship to provide funding, mentoring support and office space to local women with serious ambitions of setting up their own business.

The project was aimed at women aged 18 plus from the Olympic host boroughs including Barking and Dagenham, Newham and Tower Hamlets. It received nearly 120 applications in three months.

From May each has received a designated mentor to support them in their efforts to set up a business, three months office space at UEL’s Knowledge Dock Business Centre, and six expert workshops covering the ‘nuts and bolts’ of starting your own business. On graduation they were each presented with £2,000 start up funding.

Now they are ready to turn their dreams into reality. Their ideas include a beauty website, poetry commissions, a brand of organic chilli chutney, a family-friendly board game with an Afro-Caribbean theme; and a dating app specifically designed for London’s lesbian community.

The graduates from Tower Hamlets are Terri-Leigh Finnegan, 23, UEL Fashion Design and Marketing graduate, who has set up Why So Serious?; Kate Irvine, 20, current UEL Marketing undergraduate with Cheeky Bum Bags; Amina Begum, 19, UEL Accountancy & Finance undergraduate with SAKs Accounting and Corrine Mighty who has set up Vanityshare:

Corrine said: “To be totally honest, the main thing Make it Real has given me is the confidence boost I needed to go for my business idea. The access to people and networks has given me the tools that I needed. The confidence, experience and the money is invaluable.”