Empowering women, one bookkeeper at a time

March 8th every year marks International Women’s Day and this year the slogan to accompany the campaign is ‘Each for Equal’.

This slogan resonates with us at the International Association of Bookkeepers because of the sheer number of women who turn to bookkeeping as a qualification. We hear many stories of how bookkeeping has empowered women, allowed them to be their own boss and enabled them to influence business; and in some cases, having bookkeeping under their belt has given them a sense of equality, if you like, alongside partners and in society as a whole.
This International Women’s Day (IWD), we wanted to showcase some of the IAB’s most successful female bookkeepers and what they have achieved.


Sarah Fenwick, Tree Fellas, HullSarah Fenwick, Tree Fellas, Hull
Sarah and her partner Gareth are the proud owners of business, Tree Fellas in Hull, East Yorkshire. Gareth was working as a tree surgeon for the local council whilst Sarah was a credit controller but as time went on, they realised that they might be able to go it alone and set up their own business: Gareth would be ‘operating’ on trees and Sarah would be head of the rest of operations – marketing, sales and of course, bookkeeping.

They took the plunge in January 2019 and were astounded at the huge demand for what they offered. Sarah admits that she was ‘winging it’ when it came to the books and was feeling quite overwhelmed by the volume of paperwork in their office and how to process it.

Fortunately, Sarah won funding for bookkeeping training and she says,

“As soon as I started level one, things started to become much clearer! And then with level two, they became clearer still. Di [Garbera, IAB Tutor of the Year 2019) was a fantastic teacher and continues to help me now – she’s always on the end of the phone if I need some help.”

As a bookkeeper herself now, Sarah has saved the business money and is on top of the transactions.
“Bookkeeping gives you a strong insight into how your business is doing and where you need to improve.”

Sarah and Gareth met whilst they were both in care and are eager to provide strong roots for their two daughters. They have created a ‘business family’, a network of expertise and support which they rely on and Sarah now mentors those on low incomes who have a business idea.

Sarah is a nominee for Student of the Year in the 2020 IAB Awards.


Emma Fox, Fresh Financials, East SussexEmma Fox, Fresh Financials, East Sussex
Emma is an award-winning bookkeeper who, as she terms it, has “flipped bookkeeping on its head.”

Like many IAB members, Emma turned to bookkeeping when she had her first child as she wanted to work with greater flexibility. She started small and set herself up as a sole trader. A decade or so later, she wanted to try a different way of working and could see the appeal of cloud accounting for her as a bookkeeper but also for businesses too.

Emma’s business, Fresh Financials, is as the colourful website suggests, ‘reinventing bookkeeping’ and is for the type of client who uses technology to streamline their business processes. Emma and her remote team of five working parents, strongly encourage their clients to use an ‘app stack’ (a set of apps) and the efficiency this creates allows them to offer other services and, importantly, value, turning each of the Fresh Financials team into an outsourced finance department. The technology and team’s expertise allow clients, “to see not just how they’ve done but how they’re doing.”

As remote as it might seem, Fresh Financials are in touch with their clients most days and feel close to those businesses. They do arrange to meet their clients for a coffee but that’s for relationship building only – no bookkeeping chat allowed!

Emma won Bookkeeper of the Year 2019 at the IAB awards. You can hear more about her journey on the IAB podcast, here.


Ranuka Manimaran, HarrowRanuka Manimaran, Harrow
Ranuka is a lady for whom bookkeeping has played a big part in her life. She comes from a family of accountants and bookkeepers and so it was no surprise that she found herself as an accounts assistant in 1989. She performed standard bookkeeping tasks such as invoicing and took her levels 1 and 2 bookkeeping qualifications, leading to her becoming a credit controller in a marketing company.

By 2007 she had two young daughters and also, sadly, a divorce. Ranuka knew she had to support her family and turned to the teaching profession as well as setting up a jewellery business. The perpetual dilemma for her was how to be a businesswoman as well as a mother – something I’m sure many of us can understand.
A decade after leaving bookkeeping she came across Future Connect who connected Ranuka to the IAB. As an accounts assistant, bookkeeping had been ‘just a job’ but now she was reaching a new level of understanding and finding a new enthusiasm for it! She found the training clear and intuitive and realised why bookkeeping is such a great career! She loves the work, the flexibility (she can continue the jewellery business) and the doors bookkeeping is opening.
Ranuka is also a nominee for Student of the Year at the 2020 IAB awards.

For International Women’s Day, forward this to the women in your life to show them how life-changing bookkeeping can be – so much more than number crunching!


Love to hear your thoughts,



P. S. If you have a story to share with this, please do! Email us here.


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