Egbe Manton is a corporate lawyer and the founder of Manton Legal.
She set up her business in the middle of the first national lockdown as organisations struggled to find clear and affordable guidance. Manton Legal helped 200 clients in its first year and is also helping unemployed young graduates who are seeking a career in law.
Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your current role?
I am a lawyer and mother of two; I’m also the founder of Manton Legal, which is a legal consultancy offering simplified, affordable guidance to entrepreneurs and SMEs.
We work with freelancers, founders and executives, and empower them to pursue their passions and build their commercial offering while we take care of the legalities.
When the nation went into lockdown last year forcing businesses to close, many SMEs were unsure of what to do next. They didn’t know where to get legal guidance, and the advice they did receive often wasn’t comprehensible.
Not only that, but lockdown also gave many people the opportunity to launch new businesses, or expand and pivot, and again they didn’t know who to turn to.
Many small business owners were telling us that legal guidance in those areas was expensive, but also they couldn’t understand what the solicitor was advising. I ended up putting together packages to help guide them through the process in a language that they understood – outlining what their next steps were clearly from the start. That is where I saw a gap.
Manton Legal now provides legal guidance to small business owners, startups and entrepreneurs that is simple, easy to understand and practical, to help them reach their financial and professional goals. In our first year, we worked with around 200 clients.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
I grew up in 90s London and saw racial injustices all around me. I was a young girl when I heard about the murder of Stephen Lawrence and I realised that people were treated differently because of the colour of their skin. This fueled in me a real passion for justice which led me to a career in law.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Yes, and I still do! Like many start-ups, I’m working two jobs while I grow Manton Legal and that’s not always easy.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
I have just been nominated for the Entrepreneur of Excellence Award at The National Diversity Awards which is very exciting and a big achievement for me as I am passionate not only about law but also diversity and ensuring that the two go hand in hand.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
It can be lonely starting and growing a business so I’m receiving support from We are Radikl, which is a women’s start-up and investor movement. It’s great to be part of a community of female founders who I can talk to and learn from as well as meeting like-minded entrepreneurs who share a similar vision.
It’s given me the confidence to also go for funding and investment so that I can accelerate the business. Women do really well when other women help them, and this support has meant a lot to me.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
Yes absolutely – I’m deeply committed to giving youngsters a chance to start a career in law. It’s hard to get a training contract, it’s even more challenging to get it if you’re black or an ethnic minority. So, we’re creating a pathway to get those graduates the right training so they can achieve their goals.
In turn, I’m receiving some great mentoring from the team at We are Radikl – I’m currently on their Elevate programme which gives me one-to-one business coaching and group acceleration workshops. It’s designed for women who want their business to be in a ‘radically different place’ in 12 months’ time – that’s me!
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for gender equality, what would it be?
I think the system is unfairly stacked against women founders who are seeking funding early in the life of their businesses. Women often have less time to commit to business development and they’re less likely to know investors or what the options might be.
I’m backing a campaign called #overbeingunderfunded which is calling for changes to the Government’s Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme. The team at We are Radikl are calling for entrepreneurs to have more time to apply for funding – something that would benefit all start-ups – and for full gender reporting. They’re also calling for more funding to be directed to women business founders in those crucial early years.
The campaign is already gathering great momentum and I think these straightforward commitments would make a meaningful impact on the way women are supported as they grow their businesses.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
To disregard the thoughts of other people because there are always going to be people who don’t understand your vision. Be bold, be different and be unique.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
To scale the business in a sustainable way, while still achieving the look, feel and vibe of Manton Legal that our clients love.