This year’s sponsor of the Innovation category at the Northern Power Women Awards is IN4 Group, an award-winning skills, innovation and start-up growth services provider. As sponsors of an award that celebrates the team, service or organisation that share the goal of accelerating gender equality by pursuing game changing ideas, IN4 Group is committed to inspiring and capturing innovation across the North and beyond. This innovation is stimulated further through IN4 Group’s FreelanceHER 100 Programme, which equips female entrepreneurs with the skills and confidence to innovate their businesses.
The 12-week, online accelerator programme provides access to tailored workshops, valuable peer networking opportunities, and a safe environment for business owners to test and trial their innovative business ideas. An opportunity for female identifying entrepreneurs from across the North, perfect for those looking to create, innovate, learn and grow.
To find out more about just how impactful the FreelanceHER 100 programme can be for female entrepreneurs, we spoke to Judy Leung who took part in last year’s programme. Judy is the co-founder and CEO of Sweqlink, the marketplace for sweat equity investment opportunities. Sweqlink is democratising access to talent and equity investment, helping new founders find work-for-equity talent for their startups, while opening up investment opportunities to anyone interested in trading their time and expertise for startup equity.
Speaking of the breadth of important areas covered on the course, Judy mentioned how diverse the course structure was: “they ranged from topics such as mindset, mental wellbeing through to finance and recognised frameworks for business development, all delivered by best-in-class entrepreneurs and mentors”.
“I remember a particular session about how to diversify your revenue streams to build a resilient business – if nothing else, the pandemic has taught businesses how important that is!”
As well as the expertly delivered content that featured on the course, Judy also reflected on how her participation in FreelanceHER 100 was a fantastic opportunity to network with other like-minded entrepreneurs, making some brilliant friends and business contacts along the way.
“The past couple of years has made it near impossible to meet like-minded people in person. The benefit of having a programme like FreelanceHER 100 is you know everyone is fairly local, making it possible to meet up. And you know you’re all going through a similar journey, facing similar challenges, so you’re not alone”.
After taking part in the programme, Judy’s business is in a stronger position than ever before. Reflecting on how she felt at the start of the 12-week course, she stated that “when I joined the programme, I was just beginning to establish myself as an entrepreneur and learning about the startup ecosystem”. In comparison, after completing the course, Judy was a finalist for the entrepreneur of the year award at the Women in Tech Excellence Awards, has connected with other entrepreneurs on the programme, and has met other potential collaborators for Sweqlink.
As a business owner herself, Judy understands better than most the need for innovation and the importance of recognising and celebrating innovative approaches to age old problems:
“Innovation keeps businesses relevant”, she said. “This is particularly why it’s so important to encourage more businesses to innovate with women and diverse leaders at the forefront. Businesses that don’t invest in innovation will soon become left behind as market demands and consumer behaviour changes. Being able to think outside the box means you can see opportunities in the market where perhaps your competitors can’t, giving your business a competitive edge”.
IN4 Group’s sponsorship of the Innovation category at the Northern Power Women Awards 2022 enables us to keep spotlighting and celebrating innovators across the North. By showcasing the success of innovative ideas and people, sponsored by IN4 Group, the awards will go on to inspire increasingly innovative approaches, keeping creative problem-solving businesses relevant and adaptable.