The Juno Project

Posted by editor 14/02/2014 0 Comment 3478 views

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Danielle Aumord hears from an inspirational social entrepreneur encouraging women to go it alone in business

Forty-seven-year-old Ali Golds has gone from living in a women’s refuge to setting up both a business and a social enterprise. Her favourite phrase is “Nothing is insurmountable”.

At present, Golds is consulting on a national review of enterprise education for Conservative Politician Lord Young, and has just finished penning a business book for single parents in which she challenges her  readers  to make financial independence a priority, and even advocates that the easiest way to be financially independent is to run one’s own business. In fact, Golds’s social enterprise The Juno Project, which launched officially on International Women’s Day last year (8th March 2013), was set up to pioneer this.

The Juno Project offers workshops and business training to enable its clients to run a successful business. “I think it’s important for women to be economically independent,, Golds shares, as she explains that her inspiration came after two marriage breakups and incidences of domestic violence within another relationship.

It’s just over 5 years ago that she took up residence in a women’s refuge. “My ex-partner told me that if I left him, he would cut me up into little pieces and bury me in the garden. He would often talk to me with his hand around my throat.”

Golds had three businesses prior to this, two in construction whilst she was married, and one in media recruitment when she became a single parent. She’s been able to use the skills she developed and her traumatic life experiences to encourage other women to become self-sufficient through self-employment.

“(After my second divorce in 2005) I lost everything, my house, my business and my car. I lost any opportunity of buying another house. I was left with no income, with no maintenance.”

Golds says these experiences for her were like coming to a fork in the road. “It was either lie down or fight, and I (chose to) fight. I went to work in recruitment and then set up my business a year later. The turning point for me was when I realised that I could do it by myself,” she adds.

Within the workshops she runs Golds reaches out to a wide range of females, the youngest of her clients being 16 and the oldest being 72. She explains to her disciples that running a business can give you more life choices, for example management of childcare arrangements and hours worked. This very often is a motivation factor for the participating women. “I encounter a lot of single mums who want to be able to support themselves in a more flexible way. (I also find that) the women that I run workshops for in the refuges are very eager, and not scared to do something out of their comfort zone. They just want to make life better for themselves and their families.”

Golds’ book, The Single Mum Entrepreneur, outlines her journey as a single parent, why she set up her own business, alongside a step by step guide to writing a business plan and setting up one’s own self-employment ventures. It also includes case studies of single mothers who run their own businesses as an extra push for readers who are thinking about embarking on this path.

Financial stability with or without a man in tow, is really what Golds wants to get her audience to think about. Both the book and the Juno Project were birthed out her own struggles and in light of this, Golds wants to share what she’s learnt with other women. The idea being that no matter what they come up against in their personal lives, financially they can secure themselves. “Some of my clients say: ‘I was giving myself excuses about why I couldn’t do anything but now we’ve heard your story, we realise that there are no excuses’,” she concludes with a determined tone of voice.

Golds is a woman on a mission and doesn’t seem to be running out of steam at any point soon.

The Single Mum Entrepreneur is out in August this year.

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