About two years ago, having recently returned from a year living in Singapore, I set up what was meant to be a small ‘group’ on Facebook. My objective was to connect with other, like-minded women who were seeking to establish or grow a local business in Maidenhead. I wanted to establish my own business, and wanted to try to create a local group of business contacts that might assist me, point me in the right direction and keep me up to date with the local ‘pulse’. In truth, I expected to create a group of a few tens of people with whom I might interact online and perhaps, with whom I might collaborate on a professional level.

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That small group that I had planned took on a life of its own, as hundreds of talented businesswomen joined the group. That same ‘small’ group now has following of 1300 strong women, and it’s growing daily. Last Saturday, if you happened to be in the High Street in Maidenhead, you might have seen a number of local businesses, owned and managed by local female entrepreneurs, showcasing their businesses, their products and services. It was a great day, a fun event and the support that we were lucky enough to get from the local community was fantastic. Sincere thanks to all of you!

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The Home Secretary, our local MP Theresa May, was good enough to attend and lend her support and cast her vote for Maidenhead Business Girls, and indeed, ‘Girl Power’, as she called it.

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We were fortunate enough that Mrs. May also joined us for the 2nd time in a week at a private reception at The Pinkneys Arms in Pinkneys Green last Friday evening.  It was another opportunity for the Business Girls to meet with Mrs. May in a more relaxed environment.   It was an inspiring, engaging evening with lots of business banter and a fantastic interactive Q & A.   The value of the community and the need to support local women in business was a hot topic.  And one that Mrs. May gave much support to offering advice and guidance.  We were thrilled that such an influential woman in business and also our local MP took the time out to support us again.

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Perhaps there is a measure of girl power in what we have created, the real question is what does girl power really mean in the context of an online business community?

What I have learned over the past two years is that there are some fantastically talented, creative, tenacious and capable businesswomen in Maidenhead. Some have already set up their own business, some are considering the idea, and others are already juggling corporate careers. The common bond that we all share is the need to be able to reach out to other, like-minded people, to be part of a peer group network that can lend support, know-how and advice on a day to day basis to make our business lives easier. There’s little doubt that establishing and running a business is exciting, liberating and fun, but it’s also lonely, stressful and risky. What I hope Maidenhead Business Girls has delivered to all its members is a sense of communal support, a source of knowledge, a daily business ‘agony aunt’ platform, friendship, camaraderie and much more.

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Bill Gates’ wife Melinda said it best when she said, “A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.” I do hope that Maidenhead Business Girls helps many strong women find their voice. Do lend your voice to the community; it really does make all the difference.

Amanda Ayres – Founder The Business Girls Network

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