Riding For Victory: Coconut’s Cycle Challenge!

For the countless women struggling to re-enter the workplace, Smart Works is a lifeline! Through interview coaching, and the donation of an interview-ready outfit, women are being empowered to change their own lives. Which is why Coconut embarked on a fundraiser to support EWiF’s chosen charity.

It’s been a week since the Coconut team of five, donned their cycling shorts and embraced the community spirit of the outside (or inside a sweaty gym perhaps). With pedals spinning for dear life but spirits high, our team of amateur cyclists pedalled their way to their goal targets, all in support of Smart Works’ mission to empower women in the workplace.

The journey was nothing short of exhilarating. From early morning training sessions to late night gym fixes, the team shared a sense of purpose and determination. Each mile conquered was a step closer to driving positive change in the world. As we pushed through the pain, we were reminded of the obstacles many women face as they try to enter the business landscape. To date, Smart Works has empowered over 35,000 women, many of whom are at greatest risk of economic hardship and discrimination. In the last year:

  • 44% of clients had been unemployed for over a year,
  • 18% had applied for over 50 jobs,
  • And 10% had applied for over 100 jobs before coming to Smart Works.
  • In addition, 37% were single mothers,
  • 16% have a disability
  • 52% were from an ethnic minority.

It’s no easy feat! So, we pressed on, determined to make a difference. Each member of the Coconut team had a goal: to cycle 100 miles and raise at least £100. But of course, we managed to top that, collectively raising £612! We’d like to thank our very generous donors for the support given to help us reach our target! Every penny raised will support Smart Works’ vital work in providing unemployed women with the tools and resources they need to build confidence – especially after a career break, or negative workplace experience.

As one client says, “I remember very clearly how bleak life felt when I visited Smart Works three years ago, feeling hopeless, like no-one would give me a job because of my depression. The hours I spent with the women there – I’ll never forget them; and I hold Smart Works in my heart.”

The Cycle for Smart Works Fundraising Challenge was more than just a bike ride; Our team was joined by individuals from all walks of life, each with their own reason for taking part. Some, like Nathalie Buckley (a new mother!!) were looking for a new challenge, whilst our MD Paul Clegg, wasn’t sure if his 30 year old bike still worked! Together, we shared our progress and had a laugh along the way.

When she finished, Lyndsey Hancock, echoed the thoughts of most of us when she said, “101 miles cycled! I’m NEVER cycling again!” But despite the sore legs, it was all for a good cause.

Coconut, together with EWiF, are proud to support a charity helping women reach their full potential. The Cycle for Smart Works Fundraising Challenge has reminded us of the power of collective action, and we look forward to taking part in

more fundraising challenges in the future!

Empowering Women in Business 2023

Pip Wilkins QFP, CEO to the BFA (left), Nathalie Buckley, Coconut (mid), Lyndsey Hancock (right)

Pip Wilkins QFP, CEO to the BFA (left), Nathalie Buckley, Coconut (mid), Lyndsey Hancock (right)

New to Coconut, and new to franchising, we sent Nathalie Buckley and Lyndsey Hancock to their first ever franchise event. Here, Nathalie shares what she loved about attending the BFA’s EWIB conference!

On Wednesday, 27th September, 2023, my colleague Lyndsey Hancock and I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Empowering Women in Business (EWIB) conference hosted by the British Franchise Association (BFA). As newcomers to both the worlds of Coconut and franchising, this event was an eye-opening and inspiring experience for us.

The visionary behind the operation, Pip Wilkins QFP, CEO of the BFA, ensured EWIB made a triumphant return, for its 10th year, with a resounding focus on the theme, ‘Making Every Moment Count.’ The event brought together a diverse network of women from various sectors within franchising, and it was nothing short of exceptional to be a part of it.

EWIB showcased an outstanding array of guest speakers hailing from diverse business backgrounds, and included:

  • Harpreet Kaur, co-founder of Oh So Yum Desserts & winner of The Apprentice 2022.
  • Sam McAlister, who provided exclusive insights into the notable Newsnight interview with Prince Andrew, titled “How to Convince a Prince.”
  • Eniola Aluko, a double-FA Women’s Cup winner and three-time Premier/Super League champion.
  • Pip Wilkins QFP from the BFA
  • Emily Price QFP also from the BFA
  • Anne-Marie Martin from diddi dance
  • Jane James from Little Voices
  • Lucy Campbell from Right at Home
  • Vicky MacQueen from diddi rugby
  • Rebecca Newenham QFP from Get Ahead
  • Amy Cridland from McDonalds
  • Suzie McCafferty QFP from Platinum Wave
  • Farrah Rose QFP from The Franchising Centre
  • Gillian McAteer from Citation

These extraordinary women and inspirational business leaders delivered an unforgettable experience throughout the day. They generously shared their personal journeys, experiences, and entrepreneurial wisdom. EWIB allowed us to delve into the importance of finding one’s passion, pursuing dreams with unwavering determination, and embrace the challenges that come with the journey to success.

As we absorbed the insights from these accomplished women, I discovered several key takeaways, which I will reflect on further:

“Inspire others to be the best versions of themselves.” – Empowering others is a path to personal and collective growth.

  • Pip Wilkins QFP, CEO of the BFA

“Plan your time to grow your business and create financial freedom for yourself.” – Effective time management is crucial for success and financial independence.

  • Harpreet Kaur, Oh So Yum Desserts

“Collaborate effectively, define your purpose, involve the right people, and encourage collaborative behavior.” – Building a strong support network and working together can lead to remarkable achievements.

  • Anne-Marie Martin, diddi dance

“Set realistic goals, practice self-compassion, and build a support network.” – Self-care and a strong support system are essential for navigating challenges.

  • Lucy Campbell, Right at Home

“Lift as you climb.” – As we rise, we should bring others along and share our knowledge and experience.

  • Amy Cridland, McDonalds

EWIB demonstrated that franchising is an inclusive and supportive industry, welcoming women from diverse backgrounds. It showed me how personal growth, self-empowerment, and the pursuit of dreams are not limited by our histories, but enriched by them.

EWIB also stressed the importance of adaptability, maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and investing in our teams. Additionally, it highlighted the value of readily available coaching and mentoring programs, which are there to help us thrive in franchising.

In conclusion, my first EWIB conference was an unforgettable experience, reinforcing my belief in the power of women in business. Lyndsey and I discussed how we’re now more motivated than ever to embrace our journey in franchising, armed with the wisdom and inspiration we gained from these remarkable women. As we move forward, we’ll carry the lessons of empowerment, collaboration, and personal growth with us, making every moment count in our own entrepreneurial endeavors.

To find out more about our journey into the world of franchising, read Lyndsey’s blog and explore her personal experience of EWIB through our partner site, EWiF