‘Women will change the world’, Mowgli founder tells Liverpool audience

Liverpool restaurateur Nisha Katona tells her inspiring success story at an Global Entrepreneurship Week event organised by NatWest and The Women’s Organisation. Tony McDonough reports

Nisha Katona
Nisha Katona, founder of Indian street food chain Mowgli


Successful Liverpool restaurant entrepreneur Nisha Katona has told an audience in the city how she “risked the roof over my head” to launch her restaurant brand Mowgli.

Starting with an outlet in Bold Street, Ms Katona followed up with a second Mowgli in Manchester and then returning to Liverpool to open her third restaurant, in Water Street opposite Liverpool Town Hall.

In July 2017 she secured £3.45m from private equity firm Foresight and is now accelerating the roll-out of Mowgli, which specialises in Indian street food, to other locations across the UK.

Entrepreneurs event

She told her story at an event organised by NatWest and The Women’s Organisation at 54 St James Street called Unleash the Entrepreneur Within, as part of the international celebrations of the annual Global Entrepreneurship Week.

A key theme of this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week is encouraging countries and communities to utilise the entrepreneurial talent of women for large-scale economic growth.

By the time she opened her first Mowgli in 2014, Ms Katona had been working as a barrister for 20 years and had already established herself as a “curry evangelist”, passing on the culinary wisdom that her family brought over from India more than 50 years ago.

She is now an author of three books, a regular guest on BBC, ITV and Channel 4 cooking shows and Mowgli has rapidly expanded to six nationwide venues with further outlets planned.

Pushing doors

She told the audience at The Women’s Organisation: “I risked the roof over my head and all my security in launching Mowgli because the idea of opening a restaurant would keep me awake at night.

“Entrepreneurs are born with a purpose and I wanted to tell the world what real Indian food made in people’s homes and on the streets tasted like. In life, you take risks by pushing doors and if they’re not supposed to open, they won’t open. I pushed the door to Mowgli and it flew wide open.”

New research published by FSB, launched at Facebook Community Boost on the same day as the event, revealed an estimated 40% increase in UK economic contribution and a 26% increase in employment generated by women-owned businesses.

Role model

And Ms Katona spoke passionately about her role as a role model for other women, adding: “As a CEO, you have two jobs – to protect and to promote your brand. I almost see Mowgli as a living thing – I have two children, and Mowgli is now my third.

“In business, you can’t get comfortable because you never know when it’s going to disappear from under your feet. I always tell myself, ‘you’re only as good as your last curry’.

“We as women, who have been unheard for so long and have so many scars, build the best cultures. What is important is that we encourage our daughters to build businesses and go into professions that they whole-heartedly love, because women can and will change the world.”

The Women's Organisation
From left, Jo Austin of The Women’s Organisation, Mowgli founder Nisha Katona, and Natalie Hughes from NatWest


Fantastic community

Natalie Hughes, business growth enabler at NatWest, said, “We were thrilled to be invited to support this event, giving women in business in the North West the opportunity to explore how they can learn from one another to grow their enterprise.

“I work with a fantastic community of inspirational women in business with true entrepreneurial ambition through our Boost programme, helping them access the support and information they need to boost their business and help it grow.

“This month we further expanded our offering in the region with the launch of our NatWest Pre-Accelerator programme in Liverpool, for early stage entrepreneurs looking for the support they need to bring their business ideas to life.”

Brilliant women

Jo Austin, marketing manager at The Women’s Organisation, who also took part in the discussion, added: “Women are often underestimated when it comes to growing a business. In our city region we have some brilliant women led enterprises that are creating jobs and boosting our local economy.

“When a woman sees confidence, leadership and accomplishment in other women, she is able to envision that same success in herself.  The new data published by FSB just further demonstrates how if we invest in inspiring women entrepreneurs to grow, we are investing in the wider economy.

“Nisha Katona is a shining example of a local woman who had an idea, dared to make it a reality and has gone beyond that initial spark to keep growing and innovating. We were delighted to team up with NatWest and make this insightful event possible.”

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