Founded in 2010, the 5by20 initiative aims to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs by 2020. Having already given guidance and support to over 1.7 million women worldwide, we met up with some of the programme’s most recent graduates from Dundee, who couldn’t wait to share their achievements with us.

Find out how the programme has changed their lives by helping them to launch their own businesses.

Our first 5by20 graduate is Judith McDowall.

She set up Just Judith Design – a company dedicated to creating Scottish products using textiles.  Her latest line ‘Your Wee Scottish Pal’ provides a handmade, custom doll-making service using premium fabrics including Harris Tweed, brooches and textile picture collages. 

How did you first get involved with the 5by20 programme and why?

I signed up for the 5by20 programme after seeing an ad on Facebook.  At the time I was feeling very isolated and about ready to give up on my business ideas.

 How did the programme help you achieve your goals?

I’m still working on my goals, but the programme helped me with confidence by enabling me to meet like-minded ladies, and helping me with planning and goal setting. They also offered me a space at Dundee and Angus Enterprise Zone to work from. Most importantly the programme helped me to believe I can do this.

What’s been the most challenging aspect of starting your business? And how did you overcome it?

Money! Or lack of it. I built my business slowly and have learnt to ask for support when I need it. Knowing Angie Foreman, Coca-Cola’s 5by20 programme director, is always there to chat is also a great help.

What has the programme meant to you?

The programme came about at a crucial turning point for me. Instead of giving up I now have the determination and support to keep going.

Do you have a tip for women looking to get involved in 5by20?

Just do it! Take the plunge. What have you got to lose?

What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs who are about to start their own business?

A programme like 5by20 will make you look at all aspects of the business so you can figure out if it will work or not. This is crucial at the beginning, so take the time to listen to the advice before you invest time and money in something that may not be viable.

What would change if you could go back and do it all again?

I wouldn’t be scared to ask for advice and support – I wish this course had been around a few years ago.

Our second 5by20 graduate is Sara Campbell.

Sara started Dock Street Studios – a place for independent traders, designers and craft makers to sell and showcase everything from unique furnishings to art and gifts.

How did you first get involved with the 5by20 programme and why?

I was forwarded an email invitation that was being circulated by the local council business networking group. I was already keen to learn about starting a business from scratch but there was nothing like the 5by20 programme out there. Unlike the webinars and blogs on the subject, 5by20 offered a step-by-step guide for free! I thought it was an excellent opportunity and was so glad to be able to attend. 

How did the programme help you achieve your goals?

I already had ideas about the direction I needed to head in, but the programme allowed me to really focus and understand how to achieve my goals. It gave me the necessary guidance in a clear order and in specific manageable amounts. 

What’s been the best aspect of starting your business?

The surreal feeling I get when I walk into my shop knowing that I made this, I am in charge and how proud I am of how it has turned out so far.

The responsibility is on me to make it all work. It's the best and worst feeling at the same time and that keeps me working hard. 

What has the programme meant to you?

The programme has meant the opportunity to bring all my ideas, thoughts and plans together and make clear, manageable goals to make a road map to kick-start my business.

It has also meant meeting lots of interesting women from mixed backgrounds and circumstances. I’ve received a lot of support and hopefully helped them in their journeys too. Two of the women I met are now holding workshops or exhibiting within my studios. 

A tip for anyone looking to get involved in 5by20

Do it! Share your ideas, listen to others on the course, make goals, implement the assignments given in the programme. Overall, be ready to get your business out of your head and off the ground! 

Find out more about how the 5by20 programme is changing lives