The Derby Enterprise Growth Fund (DEGF) has supported many local women to grow and develop their own businesses. In the lead up to International Women’s Day (IWD) three inspirational women with businesses based in Derby, share their experiences to encourage more women to achieve their full potential.

Chiemelie Umeh is a fashion designer with a flair for harmonizing the bright, bold pattern and colour of fine and applied African art with European fabrics to create a fresh, contemporary look. The “Chiemelie” brand grew from personal passion to fashion brand following a successful launch at Pure London International Exhibition in 2016. To meet demand from interested suppliers, Chie sought support from DEGF which enabled her to invest in new premises and build a website. At the start of 2018 she employed her first member of staff and has plans to increase the headcount by the end of the year.

Chiemelie says “Being able to access the funding was a game changer for me. It helped me to make my ambitions a reality. I would love to encourage more women to do the same.”

“Abigail Warner” is a busy design and print studio creating personalised wrapping paper using traditional artisan techniques. Abigail started the business at her kitchen table but with support from DEGF she was able to invest in large scale print technology and new premises. The company’s client list is diverse – from established luxury retailers including Harrods and Selfridges, to new, young creative brands. Her private clients include socialites, celebrities and royalty. The company now employs three people, all women and Abigail is planning further expansion into domestic and overseas markets.

“Seven Restaurant and Café Bar” on Pride Park is the creation of Helen Salloway. Helen saw a gap in the market for a quality dining experience that would meet the needs of the surrounding business sector whilst also bringing a new dining experience to residents and visitors. Seven serves global cuisine throughout the day, starting with breakfast to cater for early business meetings and champagne breakfasts. Helen’s successful business model meant she was able to pay back the DEGF loan early and beat her targets for job creation.

Derby City Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Regeneration & the Economy Councillor Martin Rawson commented:

The success of the Derby City Council funding project is enabling local women to build thriving businesses and create new employment opportunities. We are very proud to have had the opportunity to support these inspirational women of Derby.”

The Council is also supporting IWD through a Market Place event on Saturday 10 March from 10am – 4pm. This year the festival will be an extra special one; celebrating 100 years since women first won the right to vote in the UK. Organised by dedicated volunteers and with funding from a National Lottery grant and the Crowdfund Derby scheme there will be over 40 stalls featuring live performances, food and gifts plus, inspiring hourly workshops at QUAD.

DEGF is now entering a new phase with the distribution of £12 million of recycled loan funding. Applications are invited from businesses with plans for growth and job creation in Derby and Derbyshire. Further funding is being sought to enable this fantastic scheme to be extended to more businesses in Derbyshire in the near future.

To find out more visit: call 01332 641628 or email