'Two Chicks' empower next generation of female entrepreneurs

Anna Richey and Alla Ouvarova with Candice Brown at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School Islington

'Two Chicks' Anna Richey and Alla Ouvarova with Candice Brown at a festive baking class with Year 9 pupils at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Islington. - Credit: Supplied

Two businesswomen are giving a hand up to the next generation of female entrepreneurs by donating "empowerment" grants to girls schools.

Anna Richey and Alla Ouvarova, who are behind the Two Chicks brand of free range and organic egg whites, are donating 10% of their profits to an empowerment fund which has already benefitted two north London secondaries.

Anna, a former Camden School for Girls pupil, and Alla who went to Hampstead School, wanted to "give something back" by inspiring girls and young women.

Islington secondary Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School has bought laptops, books and funded talks to develop confidence and inspire entrepreneurship, including hosting a festive cooking class with Great British Bake Off winner Candice Brown. Meanwhile Parliament Hill near Hampstead Heath has paid for books, inspirational speakers and plaques for its feminist orchard.

Great British Bake Off winner Candice Brown teaches students how to make a meringue roulade

Great British Bake Off winner Candice Brown teaches students how to make a meringue roulade then gave them all a copy of her book Happy Cooking. - Credit: Courtesy Two Chicks

Both live in St John's Wood, and Alla said: "It has always been our ambition to align ourselves with women's causes and we set up this charitable trust to help disadvantaged girls in state secondary schools achieve their potential. We have built strong relationships with schools in north London, where we both grew up and we're happy to give back to these communities.

"Today’s girls and young women are the potential female leaders of tomorrow. Instilling them with confidence in their learning, talents and their own voices is key to making sure they are encouraged to pursue paths that might not always be conventional."

The pair, who met in 2008 and grew their business through the financial crisis, understand the extra challenge for female entrepreneurs.

"Growing up, there wasn't really a structure in place for mentoring or role models and when we were starting out there was an assumption that two women with an idea and no experience in food or business could ever make a success of it," said Anna. "Thankfully we didn’t listen, but there were times that were very challenging so it's important to build resilience and entrepreneurial spirit within the school system."

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They believe in boosting personal, social and emotional wellbeing through cultural activities as well as offering practical skills and career pathways.

Anna said: "The school leaders we are working with have been really inspiring and have created plans which support mental health, promote a love of reading, and provide enriching activities.”

At Parliament Hill, future plans include taking students to the theatre, hosting artists in residence, and buying books for their mobile library. 

Headteacher Sarah Creasey said: “Their generous empowerment fund for girls dovetails perfectly with Parliament Hill’s feminist mission and will bring many benefits for our students.”

Parliament Hill students planted plaques recognising strong women in their feminist orchard

The grant paid for plaques in the school's feminist orchard - Credit: Georgina McCartney

EGA's careers education leader, Razziya Siddique, said the fund, which has bought 50 laptops and 1000 copies of The Gratitude Journal, "contributes to raising aspirations, enhancing students’ resilience and helps the school to break down barriers to social mobility”.

Candice Brown said: "As a former secondary school teacher in north London, education is something I'm incredibly passionate about and the aims of the empowerment fund, including supporting mental wellbeing and developing confidence in girls’ schools, is something that I'm incredibly honoured to support."

Anna and Alla have visited both schools to give careers advice and talk about starting a business.

"Starting our business on a low budget meant that we had to be extremely persistent and innovative in order to get into and remain in the marketplace," Alla said. "It was a question of always thinking outside the box and pushing boundaries.

"You need to have the right attitude. Of course there will be setbacks. You need to be prepared and be robust. Part of our success was down to never taking no for an answer and just persevering with what we believed in then never giving up."