St Albans businesswoman calls in Euro MP over gender discrimination

Local business owner Sajida Kamraan speaks to MEP Richard Howitt about her struggles in setting up h

Local business owner Sajida Kamraan speaks to MEP Richard Howitt about her struggles in setting up her ktichen table baking business - Credit: Archant

Single mother and budding entrepreneur Sajida Hussain sat around the kitchen table with her local Euro MP on Friday to talk about the problems facing women in business.

Sajida, a mother of three, runs Butterfly Cakes, a kitchen table baking business, from her home in Puddingstone Drive, St Albans, and has been frustrated by how difficult it has been for her to get a business loan and make ends meet.

She sat down for a chat with Euro MP Richard Howitt recently because as the lead member of the European Parliament for ethical business he is spearheading calls for tougher laws after research found women faced discrimination in accessing finance and were less able to receive bank support than men.

Mr Howitt has previously campaigned for women’s rights in business including reducing the gender pay and pension gap and for more transparency on corporate pay.

Sajida said: “I am a low income earner and receive working tax credits, but I have a popular and viable business that I would love to grow.

“But I need someone to have some faith in me and give me the opportunity to repay a bank loan over a period of three to five years so I can invest in equipment and supplies.”

She added: “I need people to see that I exist.”

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Mr Howitt agreed that there were too many obstacles for women when it came to accessing finance from banks or lenders and support for childcare. While European laws forbade discrimination when it came to bank loans, he said there was evidence of indirect discrimination and stigma.

He added: “Entrepreneurs are vital for creating jobs, yet too few of those who are self-employed are women.

“Many women become entrepreneurs out of necessity as it allows them to combine work while caring for their children and those women who take a leap of faith say entrepreneurship makes it easier to work from home.”