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Aspiring Women: Fatima’s mission to empower Dundee’s disadvantaged and inspire female-led business

Project manager for Aspiring Women Fatima Ramzan hopes to reach Dundee women looking to better their situation.
Project manager for Aspiring Women Fatima Ramzan hopes to reach Dundee women looking to better their situation.

A Dundee woman is on a mission to motivate other women facing hardship and disadvantage to fulfil their potential by teaching business skills.

Fatima Ramzan is the new project manager of Aspiring Women, a programme run by Women’s Business Station.

She will support local women from diverse social and cultural backgrounds to develop their enterprise skills, connections and understanding of their rights and choices.

Her goal is to empower them to consider pathways such as further education, volunteering, work experience, employment or setting up their own enterprise.

For the past 25 years, Fatima has worked in community-led projects.

She played a pivotal role in the success of Dundee International Women’s Centre.

Originally from Pakistan, the mother-of-four moved to Dundee from Yorkshire in 1993 and has worked on many community-led projects.

Aspiring Women helping fulfil potential

The Aspiring Women pilot will take the women on a journey from self-belief and mindset to enterprise and business skills, helping them fulfil their potential.

A total of 20 delegates from different countries, including Pakistan, Morocco, Malawi and the Philippines, started the 20-week free course in February.

Fatima and some participants of the Aspiring Women programme.

The first eight weeks – ‘Live Your Best Life’ – focuses on participants’ confidence and self-esteem.

Project manager Fatima said: “Aspiring Women focuses on women from deprived backgrounds who feel isolated or vulnerable.

“They have skills and passion, some the seeds of a business idea, but they’re hampered by a range of barriers.

“For some, it’s a lack of childcare, finance or time – or they need a helping hand or to make contacts.

“Through deep-root engagement, we’re going to be that guiding force they need and help them become strong role models.”

Programme will be ‘great step forward’

Women’s Business Station supports women on their business journey, empowering them to achieve their goals, whether big or small.

It has an ambitious 10-year plan to enhance the socio-economic empowerment of 10,000 women in Scotland by 2030.

The social enterprise aims to reach its target through various programmes and mentoring, including Aspiring Women.

One of the women taking part is Arooj Sarwat, originally from Pakistan. She said, “One of my friends recommended the programme for me because she knew I wanted change in my life.

Arooj Sarwat hopes the Aspiring Women programme will make her more confident.

“Through taking part, I hope to become confident and learn a lot which will help me have a brighter future.

“I want to build up some skills, confidence and courage which will be a great step forward for my life.”

Aspiring Woman reaching out locally

Originally aiming to support 20 women, the programme was made possible by a £20,000 donation from Dundee business leader Tim Allan.

With additional £8,000 funding from McLauglin & Harvey and £10,000 grants from The Matthew Trust, Northwood Trust and The National Lottery, the programme can now support 50 women.

Women’s Business Station chief executive Angie De Vos, Arooj Sarwat, Jane Elder from McLaughlin & Harvey, Ummat Ayyaz, leadership & wellness coach Ayse Cinar, Fatima Ramzan, Amal Abukhrais and Clare Kane from Overgate.

The extra funds help Fatima reach even more women in need of her help.

She said: “Many business-minded people are fortunate enough to have resources, local knowledge and contacts to call on for support.

“However, pockets of hard-to-reach women in our communities aspire to do more but are under-privileged with no network.

“Without support they can quickly spiral into poverty and despair, affecting their families and impacting both mental and physical health.”

Overgate has offered use of their top-floor community space Gather throughout the year to run the programme.

Gather will also host a pop-up shop for Women’s Business Station members letting them test the market with their products.

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