Farzana Rahman joins nineteen finalists in the UK’s leading programme for female entrepreneurs, the NatWest everywoman Awards.
Nineteen women from across the country have been unveiled as the 2021 finalists in the NatWest everywoman Awards. Selected from nearly 1,000 entries, the finalists’ stories tell of success in the face of adversity and demonstrate that even they are not immune to the challenges of the past 18 months.
Now in its 19th year, the NatWest everywoman Awards celebrate female entrepreneurs from all walks of life, providing a platform for them to share their achievements. The 2021 finalists were chosen by a judging panel comprising some of the UK’s top business figures including Chrissie Rucker OBE (The White Company) and Kelly Hoppen CBE.
Farzana runs Desi Dolls, an educational toy company that combines motherhood with an international export business. She knew learning through play and experience was powerful but could not find any playful ways for her young children to learn about their Islamic faith. Her starting point for her one-woman enterprise was instinctive, and she designed and sold her first Desi Doll nearly 13 years ago.
She told Toy World: “I’m absolutely over the moon to have been selected as a finalist in the NatWest everywoman Awards. This year’s awards attracted almost 1,000 applications, so I’m feeling very humbled and honoured at being selected as one of three finalists for the Hera Award, which is awarded to ‘the most inspirational woman running a business trading for 10 years or more’.”
From the beginning, Farzana managed her design and production in China, building relationships which she used to quickly turn ideas into products. Today she exports over 40 different toy lines including English Arabic talking dolls, Moon and Star mobiles and Quran sound and light pillows. For Farzana, word of mouth, trade shows and industry publications have generated steady interest in the toys. In 2020, she won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise and also holds an endorsement from the London Islamic Cultural Centre.
Despite recent challenges, Farzana is excited about the potential to educate more retailers about the captive market for faith-based toys, and she’s confident this will further drive consumer spending around Ramadan and Eid.
She added: “I’m grateful to the NatWest everywoman Awards for providing this platform to recognise the growing army of women in business, and for acknowledging my success, as a muslim business woman catering to an under-represented community. Through my diverse toy designs, I create relatable toys so that muslim kids can feel represented and included. The success of my business is down to the sheer demand for such fun, innovative and interactive toys.”
The award winners will be announced at a ceremony on 7th December 2021.
Jen Tippin, chief People & Transformation officer at NatWest Group, commented: “Shining a light on the phenomenal female entrepreneurial talent and those inspirational role models has never been more important during these uncertain times. I want to congratulate all the shortlisted finalists and look forward to the Awards on the 7th December.”