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2014-02-16 22:48:35

Women Empowered held their first event of 2014 on Thursday 13th February in Baker St. entitled ‘Think Big!’

Photo by: Sukhman Grewal

Reena Ranger, chairman and co-founder explained that the premise behind today's event was to discover how the evening’s speakers pursued big ambitions and became pioneers in their respective fields; what was the secret to their success and how could we use lessons from them to seize big opportunities and fulfil great ambitions for ourselves and the privilege to have Gurinder Chadha OBE, Ahlya Fateh and Rishi Rich share their journeys and experiences with those present.

Speaking to almost 140 guests, Gurinder Chadha said that the phrase that was her idea of thinking big came from the dialogue of one of her most successful films, Bend it Like Beckham, and the character Jess Bhamra; “anyone can cook aloo gobi, but who can bend it like Beckham?!”. She spoke about how whilst growing up she was told what to do and how to behave much like Jess Bhamra had in the film. She went on to say that Jess was always going to have it all, the only question was how she was going to get there. To answer that question you had to think big and look within yourself, remember your younger self and overcome challenges in whichever way you could. It would not always be simple but the answers lay within you. If you want to achieve something and your reasons are correct, you would get there.

She went on to say that she wanted to challenge the perceptions of British Asians in the 70’s & 80’s and it was the inequality and prejudice that she had seen that propelled her journey. She still has to fight battles and the power to do so comes from wanting to overcome barriers and obstacles. She said that at times she had asked herself why she was the one who always had to push the envelope but now answers that question with the fact that she is Sikh and has stood on the shoulders of the Sikh male and female warriors who fought for justice, their beliefs and equality. So when you want to think big then draw strength from your childhood and your history.

Ahlya Fateh began with the importance of education especially in developing countries and the positive impact it has on the mortality and life lead of a girl along with the positive impact that has on the county as a whole. She went on to say that we all owe it to ourselves too and the chances that we have been given to be grateful for our own empowerment and use it to help other women who may not have felt what we have felt and enjoyed the opportunities that we have had.

She spoke of her strong ethic, her journey and her ambition. She also spoke about how she also grew up with being told what to do. She spoke of the importance of loving what you do but understanding that you must also pay the bills and went on to say that we only like to do the things we are good at but sometime it is a better to battle the things we aren’t naturally gifted at. It teaches you humility and respect for others who have skill that you may not possess. She sees that problems are now solutions waiting to be found.
She went on to say that when faced with an obstacle, you should ask yourself, “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?” the answer may seem ridiculous at first but it will lead you to a solution you may never have found being paralysed with fear.
She spoke about her career path and if you don’t ask you don’t get and not to psych yourself out of trying because you don’t think you have a chance.

Rishi Rich spoke candidly about his childhood and paid tribute to his mother who raised him single handedly, had made choices that she thought would benefit her son’s future and always was supportive of his ambitions. He reflected on his childhood circumstances and how far he had come and that thinking big was instilled in him by his mother. She was his main influence and he was grateful to her for her support.

He always took the approach that he didn’t necessarily aim to be the best but always had ambitions to be one of the most respected producers in the world. He stayed focused, “this is what you want to do and this is how you are going to get there” and that ethos took him from his humble beginnings in council accommodation to where he is today.
He spoke of all his childhood heroes and idols and how he had had the privilege to cross paths with a majority of them. He spoke about learning to be resilient and also learning from all your experiences.

He spoke about his dedication to his craft and how success followed, how life is a journey and he is still on his and also venturing into new projects and his journey is not yet complete.

He has always known what he wanted to do and where he wanted to go, mainly because he wanted to always ensure his mother was looked after and that clear focus has always guided him. His mum and now his wife are his main inspirations and that he is lucky to be surrounded by strong inspiring women.

At each event Women Empowered partner with an enabling partner to facilitate the change from an idea to bringing it to fruition and at this event Equity Stake was that partner.

They are an investment company for the entrepreneur in the making. It has one simple aim – to help those with a great business idea but maybe no real entrepreneurial experience or background to grow a business. Hardeep Rai from Equity Stake expressed that a great number of people had approached him with fabulous ideas and he was eager to follow many of them up.

Women Empowered raised awareness for Delete Blood Cancer and offered the opportunity for people to sign up to the donation register, Reena went on to say “When we think of thinking big, what could be better that offering someone the gift of life!”

Special thanks was given to Sukhman Grewal for taking the time to photograph the event and to the entrepreneurial stall holders who exhibited their goods and skills.

Mona Remtulla Co-founder said, ”tonight has been a great success and we have received positive feedback and are pleased to see a more diverse range of people attending our events and are happy to have welcomed more men here than ever before. This ensures that we have a great balance and have a fruitful dialogue as a collective. Each speaker has been fantastic and I think we can all leave here today taking at least one thing home from each of them that will help us to think big in the future.”

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