Jurga Zilinskiene

London is getting its first women's chamber of commerce

Founder Jurga Zilinskiene hopes to have more than 100 members when it launches in September.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 07 Oct 2014

The UK needs more women on the top rungs of business – Glencore Xstrata finally appointing its first female director last week, the last FTSE 100 company to do so, was a reminder that progress is still far too slow. Good news, then, that London is getting its first women’s chamber of commerce.

‘There are some really good networking groups and clubs, but the chamber of commerce will be about business: growing businesses, making contacts, finding opportunities and sharing expertise,’ said Jurga Zilinskiene, the Lithuanian-born founder of translation company Today Translations, who is spearheading the idea.

She hopes the not-for-profit chamber will be launched with 100 to 150 paying members in September and 15 on the board – both men and women. ‘The idea is to be inclusive and to help as many women as possible,’ Zilinskiene said. Directors who have already signed up include Paul Nash, the chairman of outsourcing at recruiters Harvey Nash and Gemma Quirke, the managing director of logistics company Wilson James.

The project got off the ground last week at an ‘oversubscribed’ dinner of 54 women from companies ranging from Thomson Reuters to Shell, which was sponsored by companies including Marks & Spencer.

The Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce, which was on a trade mission to London, gave a presentation at the dinner and there was ‘overwhelming support’ for copying its model, Zilinskiene said. Houston isn’t all big oil either – it is the second best city for female entrepreneurs in the US, after New York, in terms of the number and amount of loans granted.

MT is, as we like to bang on about, well into women in business. Any organisation, big or small, that wants to help women and the businesses they run get on deserves our support.

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