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A new line of networking clubs aiming to give office space to female entrepreneurs has undergone its official opening in the city of London. Businesswoman Lynne Franks, who is already the founder of the SEED (Sustainable Enterprise and Empowerment Dynamics) empowerment programme for women, decided to create the project, which will utilise executive office space in Covent Garden, when she realised that there was a gap in the market when it came to networking help for women just starting out in the endeavour of attempting to create and launch their own businesses. “It occurred to me that there was nowhere for women to start small businesses – and even those already in business – to meet like minded females and to exchange ideas and make contacts. Women were meeting in coffee shops because there was nowhere else,” she says.
Ms Franks attempted to launch a similar idea in Luton three years ago in 2007, but the economics of the recession put paid to that project. Now however, MsFranks has joined forces with Regus, which provides executive office space for clients all over the world, to launch this London based scheme, known as the B Hive project, creating what is essentially a “one stop shop” for fledgling businesswomen to be able to network, meet with their clients or carry out other business related duties. The commercial property chosen for the headquarters of the endeavour in Covent Garden includes a hot desking facility and a member’s lounge, in addition to meeting and video rooms, and even an outdoor patio setting, as well as all the usual other office amenities and a special area devoted to the selling of both business and women’s lifestyle products. The project will also hold workshops and networking lunches, as well as provide members with discounts on many major beauty and fashion brands.
“More women than ever are starting businesses, moving up the corporate ladder and taking leadership roles in media and the arts,” Ms Franks claims. “B Hive gives them a space where they can work together according to the feminine principles of community, connection and collaboration. It will allow smart, inspiring women to encourage each other to achieve their highest potential.”
“We have created B Hive to give business women all the facilities they need in a relaxing, feminine environment,” says the regional director of Regus, Celia Donne. “We want B Hive to be inspirational while making sure it is totally accessible to all and have ensured that the membership cost is extremely good value.”
If the Covent Garden scheme is successful, as Ms Franks appears certain that it will be, there are plans to launch the idea all over the country in due time, with similar centres already being planned for opening later in the year in cities such as Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester. The B Hive Centres will work alongside the social networking side of Ms Franks’ Sustainable Enterprise and Empowerment Dynamics (SEED) community.
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