Salina Ali

Salina is a chartered accountant and lecturer currently working for the University of Portsmouth. She is also a member of PBBA (Portsmouth Bangladeshi Business Association), and sister of Entrepreneur in Resident, Faz Ahmed, owner of well-known The Akash restaurant in Southsea. She initially joined the AWE program to explore the idea of setting up her own accounting firm.

“People have quite a lot of fear with finances, particularly when they start their own business. So I want to provide workshops and advice mainly to start up businesses and tell them that it’s not as scary as it seems.”

Partly inspired by her successful entrepreneurial family, partly by being inundated by accounting related questions whenever she attended networking events, Salina explained to us that one of the biggest challenges to setting up her own business was confidence. 

Juggling motherhood and a part-time job, Salina faces significant challenges in turning her dream into a reality. Initially, she had planned to gradually build her business during her free time, but similarly as many others in the same situation, the outbreak of the COVID pandemic severely hindered her progress. Salina refused to be deterred and used the setback as a catalyst to take more significant and decisive actions towards establishing her business.

“Being a mother, you feel like you should be at home with the children, but then there’s the ambitious side of you who wants to do something else as well.”

At first, it appeared to be nothing more than an unattainable fantasy, but Salina shared how her experience in the AWE program transformed her perspective. According to her, the program expanded her understanding of the subject matter beyond her original expectations. Moreover, the opportunity to connect with other women in similar situations provided her with a significant boost of self-assurance, a constructive outlook, and a determined mindset.

“It’s definitely a community – even though everyone is there for business, to progress and to learn, everyone is in the same boat, and I found that everyone, even the speakers from the individual events would join in on the banter afterwards.”

Salina says that despite all the challenges she faced, she found that all the ladies, the wide range of characters from all sorts of different backgrounds that she spoke to, felt the same as she did at the time. For instance, Salina struggled with the time management and commitment, but saw the others were taking the risks and “biting the bullet”, so it inspired her to do the same and gave her the courage to go for it.

“I still see the other’s quite often at conferences and networking events. I am planning on collaborating with those I got to know better. I have found that quite a few have become colleagues and I’m seeing how others are progressing and making it work – sort of like role models.”

Overall, Salina feels the AWE has helped her move past several barriers and said that even now, she is making progress and moving forward with her business planning.

Case Study produced by Sass Adams for the AWE programme.