5 March 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
Jennifer Georgeson has extensive experience in International Development and start-up technology, with in both the not-for-profit and for-profit world. Throughout her professional experience, time and again Jennifer saw first hand that barriers to maternal and child health and education were linked to economic disempowerment.
“How can you take a child to the clinic for its free vaccinations if you cannot afford the bus fare? How can you send all your children to school if you only have enough money for one school uniform? It is a fact repeated the world over; economic empowerment of women has a direct effect on the education and health of the whole family — women are more likely to invest in their family and local community. Economic empowerment of women saves lives, increases education and improves social indicators of whole communities.”
Against this backdrop, Jennifer founded SO JUST SHOP, with a mission to transform the lives of those in impoverished communities, by training and upskilling family leaders, equipping them with the education and tools to provide for their families. With this empowerment, women are able to drive change in their communities and beyond, to improve their country’s economy.
What would you love to share to encourage other women to start their own business?
“There is a gender divide in the age in which we start businesses, women tend to be older, we are more cautious (or less confident?) so tend to wait until our middle years. The plus side of this is women-led businesses, despite receiving less investment that their male counterparts, are more successful. So take that step, embrace the caution, do your research, gain your confidence through experience but trust yourself to succeed. Don’t ever feel your are too old or too young or not what an entrepreneur looks like, the more diverse the founders, the more diverse the thinking and ideas are which can only be a positive contribution to the world.”
What are your top 5 tips for entrepreneurial success?
The first one is probably the most important, have a mission and hold that to your core. Our mission is to raise 250,000 women and their families out of abject poverty (we have managed 10,000 to date). How we do this can change, our business model can pivot, flexibility is key to success, but as long as we stick to our core mission we will never lose our way.
Stubbornness to succeed goes a long way, it can be a very lonely road at times with many sacrifices to your time and money (I have just given myself my first salary raise in 5 years – to a modest £25k a year!) but your belief in yourself and your mission will get you through.
Ask everyone you can for help and advice and support, people are so incredibly generous with their time and are always flattered that you value their opinion so don’t be afraid to ask. You may get buffeted from one opinion to the next but, if you hold your mission at your core, these opinions will help you navigate the right path, leading on to my next point…
The final decision maker is always you. Ultimately, from the most senior manager to junior admin, you are responsible. From advice taken and decisions made throughout the company, you are responsible. BUT you can’t micro manage every part of the business, so you need to trust in your instincts to hire and fire and seek external opinion when needed, you need to trust those people around you represent you and speak with your voice. This doesn’t mean they always agree with you, but that they understand the vision you have created.
Find passion and enjoyment in what you do, too easily we get pulled down by the negatives and forget to celebrate the positives. Those positives are what keep you and all involved in your business driving forward, this is what gives you the energy in the tough times so take time to enjoy them.
Who are the women who inspire you the most?
Dr Armida Fernandez is the most inspirational woman I have ever met, originally from Goa, the seventh daughter of the seventh daughter, she set up an amazing organisation in Mumbai, SNEHA, to serve a population of women who had very little access to maternal and child health services and to support victims of domestic violence.
Inspiration comes in many forms, most of which is nameless. Working in Zambia at the height of the HIV epidemic, there was the most amazing Matron who worked tirelessly at a time when there was little medication and let alone basic PPE. With HIV rates at over 30% and little known about transmission rates during delivery, mothers were told to bring delivery kits to the hospitals when they went into labour (gloves, thread, needles and scalpel), if they didn’t they could be refused treatment. This Matron never refused to care for her patients, often putting herself at risk to protect her staff.
What is your favourite saying/inspirational quote
“Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has” Margaret Mead
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