“Some of the most inspirational women I have met through XFE have been military spouses; women more than capable of balancing their family life with building successful businesses and careers. Achieving success as a female entrepreneur may be difficult but it is not impossible. There is plenty of support out there – you just need to know where to look. Knowing you are part of a community that understands your needs and will support you wherever you may go is a huge bonus and critical success factor; something that is born out by the large number of spouses and family members XFE has supported.”
As a training and career support partner for the Forces Families Jobs website launched this week, X-Forces Enterprise (XFE) is delighted to share information and access to enterprise skills services and support to armed forces spouses and families through the new portal.
Since 2013 XFE has supported over 400 spouses and family members into business with 29% of XFE beneficiaries being women – five times higher than the national average of 5.3% – in comparison to the UK’s total early stage entrepreneurial activity including owning or running of any business that is less than three and a half years old at 5.3% (Source: Global Economic Monitor).
Enterprising military spouses have a wealth of talent, can-do capability, problem solving and adaptability; exactly the qualities needed for success in business. XFE understands and provides the ongoing handrail of support for the whole of the journey – from initial idea, exploration and start up with ongoing mentoring and knowledge exchange for as long as is required; ensuring that each spouse or family member is part of a community of support; following the ethos and values of the Armed Forces Community.
These skills are equally valuable for those seeking to take their talents into the voluntary sector or employment.
To find out more, hear from a couple of XFE beneficiary spouses; Michelle Williams who runs an innovative business from her home and Olivia Smith who launched an accessible luxury pearl jewellery brand.
Military spouse Michelle Williams, applied her knowledge to create fun, sustainable science kits for children. Mother of four Michelle embarked on the business in order to provide opportunity for children who love science, she explained:
“I had been teaching for about 15 years and wanted to try something different. My daughter had found an interest in science but when I tried to buy her a kit, they were all very low quality, or only advertised at boys. So I thought I would fill that gap in the market.”
“I saw the limitations of most science kits on the market; they are used once and then thrown away, with little facility to learn. So I decided to create my own kits, with three main aims: creating a kit that could be used time and again meaning less money in the long-term; arming the parent / caregiver with activities and basic science knowledge linked to the National Curriculum to help the children learn; encouraging girls into science.”
Elementary Sciences is based in Powys in Wales, where Michelle lives with her husband, who is currently serving as a reservist and working as a recruiter for Military Intelligence in the British Army. It is a small company and Michelle makes the kits herself, which are themed to follow the elements. Before launching the business, Michelle attended a Military Spouses’ workshop as well as the Start-Up Skills training delivered by XFE, supported by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, which gave her a good grounding in start-up skills and business administration.
Read more about her story HERE.
Olivia Smith launched Olivia & Pearl, an accessible, luxury pearl jewellery brand and online retailer in 2017, providing collectable, classic and contemporary pearl jewellery designed for a new generation of pearl lovers. Her contemporary take on pearls are high quality and sourced ethically while remaining affordable.
“I struggled with my place and purpose as a military spouse. There are questions like how do you maintain a career and friendships when you move around so much.”
Olivia received mentoring for XFE. She worked alongside XFE CEO Ren Kapur MBE and the business continues to flourish.
Read Olivia’s story HERE.