20 QUESTIONS: Patience Arinaitwe-Mugadu, Vegesentials

Should banks be more lenient with women when it comes to lending? Juice maker Patience Arinaitwe-Mugadu thinks so.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 16 May 2014

1. IF YOU HAD DONE SOMETHING ELSE WHAT WOULD IT HAVE BEEN?

I worked in the legal industry and sales, but I didn’t really connect emotionally to any of them. I was a full time mum to three children and I thought when the third turns five, I’ll think about what I want to do with my life. My youngest is now four.

2. WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU NAME YOUR BUSINESS?

We thought about The Fresh Generation. It felt a bit too long, so we went with Vegesentials, with The Fresh Generation as the slogan.

3. IF YOU COULD BE BASED IN ANOTHER CITY WHERE WOULD IT BE?

We’ve got a registered office in London, but we mainly work from home in Chesham in Buckinghamshire. It’s quite rural, so you can switch off and really enjoy the quiet in the country. We thought about Berkhamstead, but that was too urban. We also thought about Rickmansworth and Hemel Hempstead, but always in the countryside.

4. WHEN YOU STARTED, HOW DID YOU RAISE MONEY?

We used friends and family and our own money. It does help that [my husband] Andrew’s background was in investment banking, so he did have friends who knew other people who eventually helped bring in the bigger funding.

5. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST IMPORTANT DECISION SO FAR?

To invest 100% of our time, energy and everything in the business, because usually when it’s a couple people always advise that somebody keep a full time job, just in case it doesn’t work out, and the other person focuses on the business fully.

6. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST MISTAKE?

When we first started we had no experience at all in the industry. There were occasions when we had niggling doubts, which were obviously raised over and over again by people who have lots of experience. It’s always good to have a bit of fear, but there are times we hesitated to do things. If we could turn the clock back we should have stood firm.

7. WHAT IDEA DO YOU WISH YOU HAD COME UP WITH?

Facebook, because I don’t know how we survived without it. I’m a massive Facebook fan. I would also be lost without my Tom Tom.

8. HOW DO YOU HANDLE STRESS?

By listening to my favourite music - Ellie Goulding is really high up there, Beyonce, Rihanna, Kylie, Miley Cyrus, Jessie J, Pharell and obviously Calvin Harris.

9. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB?

My first unpaid job was looking after my Mum and Dad’s animals, their chickens, pigs, ducks in some pens in the backyard. That was at the age of 9, after school and homework.

10. WHAT WAS YOUR WORST JOB?

Working in the legal industry surrounded by lots of books, just not having an outlet to be creative.

11. WHAT WAS YOUR BEST JOB?

I’ve enjoyed sales, strangely, because most people hate it.  Any job that has a connection with people. I’m all about chatting and rambling.

12. IF YOU WERE ON THE APPRENTICE WOULD YOUR TEAM BE NAMED?

The Bricks, to reflect the fact that we’re reliable, resilient, and resourceful.

13. WHAT COMPANY WOULD YOU INVEST IN RIGHT NOW?

Netflix, because I’m a fan. How did we live without it before?

14. APART FROM PROPERTY, WHAT IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE THING YOU’VE BOUGHT?

A holiday to Barbados. I’m definitely long overdue for another holiday.

15. SUIT OR JEANS?

Definitely jeans.

16. FLEXIBLE WORKING OR OFFICE HOURS?

Flexible working hours. As a human being I’ve learnt my weaknesses and I’m not very good with rigid routine, so I work best when there’s no routine.

17. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT THE OFFICE?

Being able to balance work and family life, because, with three children, if Andrew and I had to commute every day it would be a huge problem. We can work round the clock, so if you get an idea at two in the morning you run down and start writing things down. Also, when work gets really stressful you can get the candles out and take a bath or do some gardening or housework.

18. WHAT APP CAN’T YOU LIVE WITHOUT?

Facebook, because I’m always busy but I do miss my friends and family quite a lot and they’re always on Facebook. It just makes me feel still really connected to everybody.

19. WHO IS YOUR BUSINESS IDOL?

Shaa Wasmund. I met her at a business conference and I was just really taken by her. She’s had such a challenging life. Everything she does she gives it her all.

20. IF YOU WERE PRIME MINSTER FOR THE DAY, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?

I would make it easier for women to get credit to fund their businesses. Banks should be a bit more lenient to women, especially if they’ve got children and a great business plan. That should be balanced with interim or temporary childcare solutions. If you need an emergency nanny it’s really hard to get hold of one, because a nanny doesn’t just drop out of the sky from nowhere.

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