THESE three women have succeeded in business while doing one of life’s hardest jobs – raising a young family.

The women – each a mother of two – are the finalists in the Daily Echo Business Mother of the Year category at the 2014 NatWest Venus Awards.

The winner will be announced during a ceremony at Poole’s Lighthouse tomorrow.

Sarah Milligan is service delivery manager at Innovate Ltd in Poole and is passionate about getting more women and girls interested in IT.

“Maybe unsurprisingly, I am the only female in the company and when I recruit for IT engineers the levels of female applicants are almost non-existent,” she said.

She is an ambassador with the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network (STEMnet).

“Ninety per cent of women want jobs that help people and 80 per cent want creative, independent job roles but most women don’t believe that technical jobs can provide these opportunities,” she said.

“Technology is my passion, along with my family, and although as a single mother having long working hours and two children sounds a battle, I enjoy every moment.”

Anna-Lee Kewley, of Bournemouth, set up Baby Moo’s with £230 from selling possessions on eBay.

Initially, she imported baby clothes, but she soon decided to get her own designs manufactured. She has recently been able to use a British manufacturer for some her lines.

“When I started the business, I was doing a lot myself. Every time the kids were asleep I would be doing something and that didn’t stop until 10pm. We couldn’t afford child care so I didn’t have any time to myself,” she said.

“It was never my intention to become a babies’ wear brand. My intention at the beginning was to be in retail and earn enough money to tide us over because we couldn’t afford for me to go back to work.”

Kelly Elsworthy, from Bournemouth, is author and publisher of The Adventures of the Cuddle Pirate, a series of books about healthy eating.

“When my first child was around two-and-a-half, he started to pick more sugary foods. I started telling him stories about the Cuddle Pirate to encourage him to minimise sugar,” she said.

Her son, Jack, began spreading the stories at nursery. “I had questions from a number of parents about the characters,” she said.

Her husband suggested publishing the stories. She read them at nursery and showed the children the work of prospective illustrators before choosing Portland artist Becky Blake.

The first book, The Jelly Giant, spawned a sequel, The Fruity Fish. There is now an app which has been downloaded more than 5,000 times, as well as plans for a cuddly toy.