Noticing the shocking lack of representation in sports, a group of women in Birmingham got together and decided to tackle the statistics themselves.
It’s hard to believe that only 12.5% of Asian women are actively participating in sport. It was statistics like this that led Kiran and Amna to begin GirlDreamer—a platform to empower the next generation of women of colour. They didn’t stop there. In 2017, they also formed Europe’s first Women of Colour Longboarding crew and, through this, the Boarders Without Borders initiative was born. They envisioned a world where they could use sport as a tool for social change and reshape the current narratives around representation.
Amna Akhtar, GirlDreamer’s co-founder, said, “I have so many personal experiences as a woman of colour and I wanted to use these experiences to provide better opportunities for the next generation of women. Naturally, these thoughts led me to co-found ‘GirlDreamer’.
After already creating two cohorts of boarders from four different UK cities, featuring on national news outlets (such as BBC, ITV, and Channel 4), and winning multiple awards for their short documentary film, the minds behind GirlDreamer knew they were on the right track. In their words, “For representation and narratives to change, we need more voices and visibility in the spaces where the power is held.”
With a list of inspirational and empowering goals (including the engagement of 220 women of colour into adventure sports by 2020), they knew they could ensure a bright future for representation.
To complete their mission, they needed £30,000 and thus their crowdfunding journey began. In fact, they wanted to raise £30k in just 30 days.
Amna went on to say, “I didn’t know much about crowdfunding at all and just assumed it was a way to raise money over the internet. However, during the campaign it made me realise it’s more about community. You gain so many new people who are genuinely interested in your work and want to be a part of the journey. This really made the 30-day journey a lot more personal and wholesome to know that people I didn’t know were supporting the campaign by sharing on their own platforms and investing their time and energy into spreading the word. I’ve learnt that crowdfunding is so much more than raising money, it’s definitely all about community and harnessing the power of people.”
With a community made up of 463 supporters, the support of our Back Her Business programme, and expert coaching from Crowdfunder coach Natalie Bickle, they went on to raise £30,624 in 30 days, including an extra-funding grant of £5,000 from us towards their goal! They also took part in Crowdfunder’s Big Impact programme.
“The Back Her Business programme was a huge blessing and really allowed us to propel our crowdfunder to the end. It gave us the boost we needed and the confidence in reaching that end goal. It has also now allowed our crowdfunder to have that additional layer of sustainability that we wanted to achieve. It also allowed people online to see that we were being backed by a huge bank which made our campaign more credible.”
She continued, “The extra funding is allowing us to be more financially sustainable so that we can continue to run programmes that benefit women and wider society. By being able to fully launch our ecommerce store with a budget that covers everything we needed to get started, it has put us in a different space for business growth.”
More than just funding
As part of the #BackHerBusiness programme, Amna and the crew behind GirlDreamer also received expert coaching and networking opportunities to help them break down the barriers often faced by women in business.
When asked about the obstacles she had faced in the past, Amna said, “Being spoken over in meetings, being undermined, overlooked for opportunities and spoken to in a demeaning manner. There’s definitely been times I’ve had to work harder in meetings or events to be taken seriously or given the same respect as other men in the same space.”
A royal shoutout!
After raising over £30k in 30 days, and being featured on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Instagram page for #InternationalYouthDay, Amna left us with her top tips for anyone thinking about crowdfunding for their own dream!
- “Do a write up of exactly why you are considering to crowdfund, how you’re going to do it and what/who you’re going to need.
- Have all your branding and marketing material ready and scheduled before you launch.
- Don’t be afraid to be open and let people understand the true meaning behind what hitting the target will mean to you.
- Use the analytics tool on your crowdfunder dashboard during your campaign to see which social media tools are bringing in most people.
- Have a few key people lined up to kickstart your crowdfunder, pick it up during the middle and be on hand if you need a helping hand towards the end.
- Be out and about and spread awareness in different ways. Social media/online is great, but word of mouth is equally powerful.