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TGt Meets...Julianne Ponan, of Creative Nature Superfoods - IWD Special

Today we're talking to Julianne Ponan, of Creative Nature Superfoods which provides bars, treats and baking mixes which are free from the top 14 allergens, vegan friendly, nutritious and delicious.

What do you #choosetochallenge?  

I #choosetochallenge the lack of funding opportunities for female owned businesses. VCs give more funding to male founded/owned businesses with statistics showing for every £1 invested, just 1p goes to female founded/owned businesses. 

One argument would be there are more male CEOs and more male entrepreneurs, but why is that? Why should men have higher powered roles, be able to gain more funds for their business and secure greater backing in order to grow? 

There are funding groups who solely invest in women, but there shouldn't need to be. Women should be seen as equal in business and afforded the same funding opportunities based on the merit of their company rather than their gender.

Thinking of your own experience in the world of business – which inequalities, if any, have you experienced personally or witnessed around gender? 

In 2013, when we had opportunities to grow and expand the range, I looked to crowdfunding in order to secure the finances needed. I faced sexism and ageism during the process with 'investors' saying I'd never make it because I'm just a little girl, laughing at my financial forecasts and claiming I could never launch the products into supermarkets. 

It's sad that men are happy to treat young woman starting in business like that, but it actually gave me more drive and determination to succeed, so in a twisted way, they helped me more than their money ever could!

Have you during your career ever challenged a situation where you felt a woman (even it’s yourself) has been disadvantaged by gender? 

In Beijing I worked for an investment bank, a heavily male dominated sector and experienced vast gender inequality. For a woman to be heard, they had to do something incredible, land the biggest account, make the most money, but for the men, a few good clients would see them praised, promoted and pampered.

What do you think women offer in particular to the world of business? 

In my experience women create more emotion led businesses. They are more in touch with customers and their feelings, so can relate more to them. Taking this a step further, I think mumpreneurs have that emotional connection to other mums, winning their business over a male owned competitor.

What do you think men offer in particular to the world of business?

I think men have more confidence when it comes to big decisions or opportunities. Where a woman might question themselves when faced with game changing opportunities (I often have imposter syndrome, like 'why would they offer this to me?'), men can just go for it, taking bigger risks. 

Is gender important when it comes to success in business? 

Equality is important. I hire staff based on skill, drive and team cohesion, not on gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. I have a workforce that's around 70% women, not because I wanted to hire women but because they showed the best potential in the job roles on offer.

Can you name any women in business you admire? 

Whitney Wolfe – Founder of Bumble

Gayathri Ramakrishnan – in my own company, Gayathri moved across the world from India as a new first time mum with her husband.  She has worked throughout the pandemic whilst still having to home school.

Emma Amoscato – author of Living with Allergies and You Me and Allergies.

Can you name any men in business you admire? 

Matt Ford - my fiancé who has been on this journey with me and has alway supported and respected me, and has never felt 'more or less' because I'm the boss. 

Do you think women who start their own business experience more challenges than men? 

Yes, because they get put down by their male peers, potential investors, suppliers and sometimes buyers. Women aren't taken seriously at the beginning, especially young women who might be considered 'of child bearing age'. 

There is not enough funding available to women, so they are immediately at a disadvantage. I found it harder to get credit from some suppliers, when my male entrepreneur friends were securing 30-45 day credit.

What do you think about the International Women’s Day movement? 

I think it's great to support female business owners. I think at times we are overlooked, so having a celebratory day where we can all admire the hard work and dedication of women across the world and in different sectors (not just business owners) is a positive thing.

To find out more visit https://www.creativenaturesuperfoods.co.uk

Fiona Scott Media Consultancy Swindon

Scott Media

Scott Media is run by a UK-based journalist with more than 20 years' experience in the media - print, radio and television.

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