London: Muslim women in the UK have been praised for their outstanding achievements in the UK’s rapidly expanding community of Muslim businesswomen.
The inaugural Saverah Women in Business Awards, held at London’s Regents Park Marriott Hotel, featured 17 categories including Business Woman of the Year, Food and Beverage, Startup, Beauty, Health and Wellness, Fashion, Digital, SME, Family and Young Woman of the Year merchant.
More than 200 unique and thriving businesses were nominated and 90 companies were shortlisted.
“It’s a great opportunity to celebrate the talented British Muslim women we have and I think it’s really nice to have all these positive role models, we have so many young girls who aspire to be the best they can be,” said the judges One of them, Ridwana Wallace-Laher, told Arab News.
“There are a lot of talented women out there,” she added. “It’s great to see all the women in the room who are future leaders and future role models.”
Wallace-Laher’s charity Penny Appeal was one of several organizations to sponsor the ceremony, which raised at least £50,000 ($60,000) for victims of the Turkiye earthquake.
Sarah Kaisar, Founder and Director of Sarah Artistry Academy, a global credentialing body for beauty and aesthetics, has won the Business Woman of the Year award for her positive impact in the industry.
The London-based company also offers beauty treatments as well as skin and cosmetic products, providing an accessible and viable opportunity for thousands of women around the world who want to pursue a career in beauty or cosmetology, she said.
“My main goal has always been to break the stigma against the industry,” said Kaiser, 30. “I reach out to communities that may not have the means to pursue their own career path, and I better reach out to women and give them the opportunity to be who they are.”
Yingba, who has a legal background, said that her company is currently located in Dubai, Madrid and Los Angeles, but hopes to expand to more countries around the world and provide higher qualifications.
Established in 2014, Sweet Lounge specializes in vegan and halal confectionary and won the Food and Beverage Business of the Year award.
The Midlands-based company stocks many of its British chains, but has also started exporting to the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Greta McDonald, CEO and founder of Sweet Lounge Group, said: “As a Muslim businesswoman, people might see me a little differently than others because you can understand that business is already a very male-dominated industry.”
“Being a woman and trying to achieve big things in my industry, people might think I can’t achieve them,” said the 28-year-old British-Lithuanian. “So, I feel like I have to set an example that there is no limit to what a Muslim woman can achieve in business.”
Macdonald, who converted to Islam eight years ago, said the UK was a very multicultural country with “no limits” and there were plenty of opportunities for women entrepreneurs.
The Digital Business of the Year award went to rotibox, a modern solution to making traditional homemade roasts spotless, founded three years ago by entrepreneur and mother Sophia Choudry.
“It’s amazing to win this award, especially to be a digital business winner, because three years ago, I didn’t even have an Instagram account, so it means a lot to me to be recognized for all my hard work.” It’s across all social media platforms,” she said.
“It’s fantastic to have my product recognized and I’m making a difference in people’s lives, but I also feel really honored to represent South Asian culture,” and “stay alive through food,” the 44-year-old Brit-Pakistan added road.
LCFitness, a women-only fitness company specializing in high-intensity workouts, was honored with the Health and Wellness Business of the Year Award in recognition of seven years of hard work.
Lianne Crisp, a 39-year-old personal trainer and strength trainer, started her own business teaching kettlebell training.
“I’m a Muslim woman, a hijab woman, and at the time only women were allowed to work out, only Zumba or dancing and stuff like that, I wasn’t interested in that,” she said.
“I thought, if I want to train for strength, if I want to use kettlebells, there must be other women like me who don’t just want to do some kind of dance-based fitness, and then, lo and behold, I have 200 in my book Multiple women and I was the only trainer,” she added.
Crisp, who converted to Islam at the age of 17, said women in the fitness industry must work together to support and support each other.
“At the end of the day, if we encourage each other and support each other, that’s the only way we can grow as Muslim women, there is no competition because we are all unique. We are all different and we are all trying,” she added.