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18th of June 2024
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Entrepreneurs celebrated in the UK’s leading awards programme for women in business

Twenty-one women from across the UK are announced today as finalists in the 2019 NatWest everywoman Awards.

Now in their 17th year, the NatWest everywoman Awards celebrate female entrepreneurs from all walks of life providing a platform for them to share their achievements. From the founders of international multi-million-pound empires to those spearheading social enterprises for the greater good, this year’s finalists are the role models whose success will inspire future generations of female entrepreneurs. Spanning diverse industries – fashion, jewellery, hospitality, skincare, food, and social care – the 2019 finalists were chosen by a judging panel comprising some of the UK’s top business figures, including Helen Pattinson (Montezuma’s), Julie Deane OBE (Cambridge Satchel Company), Sarah Wood (Unruly), Poonam Gupta OBE (PG Paper Company), fashion designer, Melissa Odabash, Harriet Hastings (Biscuiteers), Sam Smith (FinnCap) and Rowan Finnegan (Regenerative Investment).

Overall, only one in three UK entrepreneurs is female, a gender gap equivalent of 1.1 million missing businesses. This is despite the potential for £250 billion of new value to be added to the UK economy if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men. Even if the UK were to achieve the same average share of women entrepreneurs as best-in-class peer countries, this would still add as much as £200 billion1.

The Alison Rose Review identified the three biggest opportunities to help female entrepreneurs, which included “…relatable and accessible mentors and networks”. Since 2003 the NatWest everywoman Awards has been providing exactly this, by building a community of the UK’s leading female business owners and connecting them with peers, advisors and investors. The work that the awards do could not be more important at this time.

Julie Agbowu of All Inclusive Advice and Training, from Croydon is a finalist in the the Gaia category, sponsored by Montezuma’s Chocolates. This will be awarded to the most inspirational and successful female founder of a social enterprise who has combined strong community benefit with a sustainable business model. Julie founded All Inclusive Advice and Training, a social enterprise dedicated to empowering those on low income or in social deprivation with practical financial knowledge.

As a qualified accountant, Julie knows first-hand the important role financial literacy plays in advancing an individual’s prospects, employment options, and confidence. Julie founded All Inclusive Advice and Training as a not-for-profit, with funds being channelled back into the local community. It offers a range of services and programmes, including workshops on Self-Assessment, Tax Returns and Financial Capability, the latter of which has been vital in helping those transferring to Universal Credit.

The business also helps its students into employment, which has been made possible by Julie’s constant engagement with the community and local businesses, networking and educating them on the importance of giving opportunities to apprentices, young school dropouts and the long-term unemployed. One of her biggest challenges was the Croydon Riots in 2011, which led to a loss of many students and hostility between businesses and local young people. Julie’s response was to bring businesses together and form the ‘London Road Business Association’, where business owners could share stories and collaborate on ideas to overcome issues caused by the riots together.

The award winners will be announced at a ceremony on 3 December 2019 at Grosvenor House, London. Further awards will include the Spirit of everywoman Award presented to a woman who has helped change the landscape for businesswomen in the UK; the everywoman Ambassador Award celebrating the success of a high-profile entrepreneur; and the brand new Fortuna Award recognising an individual who is investing in women-run enterprises.

Speaking about the finalists, Maxine Benson MBE, Co-Founder at everywoman comments: “The Alison Rose Review cited the vital influence of role models and through this programme we have reached over 4,000 female entrepreneurs, sharing their stories and success to inspire others. Our work focuses on empowering women with professional opportunities and we must address the reasons why 60% of women who have considered starting a business, did not because of a lack of confidence. This year’s finalists demonstrate the innovation that women already bring to entrepreneurship and we believe their stories will encourage others to follow suit.”

Yvonne Greeves, Director of Women in Business, at NatWest, says: “We are very proud to recognise these women, who are not just successful in their own businesses, but are also great role models. The importance of women in business cannot be underestimated, so we hope these role models will inspire other women to take their first steps in business. To help these entrepreneurs and would-be business owners, NatWest has a network of over 500 externally accredited Women in Business specialists who understand our customers’ ambitions and provide business advice, mentoring and networking opportunities.”

Helen Pattinson, Co-founder of Montezuma’s Chocolates added: “We love supporting the NatWest everywoman Awards and in particular the Gaia award as it provides a completely different perspective on business. I have really enjoyed judging the winners of our category – as founders of social enterprises, all the nominees are truly inspirational ladies whose motivation goes well beyond making a profit.”

In March 2019, Staff from All Inclusive Advice & Training attended the Dubai Global Convention 2019.



Globalisation requires countries to compete, with economically successful countries holding competitive and comparative advantages over other economies. The education and training of a country’s workers is a major factor in determining how well a country’s economy will do. A country’s economy becomes more productive as the proportion of educated workers increases, as educated workers can more efficiently carry out tasks that require critical thinking.


Many people assume education is solely academic, but a country doesn’t need to have an extensive network of colleges or universities to benefit from education, it just needs relevant training. For an economy, education can increase the human capital in the labour force, which increases labour productivity and thus leads to a higher level of output. Education facilitates the transmission of knowledge needed to understand and process new information and to implement new technologies. It can also therefore increase the innovative capacity of the economy, with the knowledge of new technologies, products, and processes promoting growth.


Many countries have a vision to be ‘Internationally Competitive’ with a ‘Diversified Economy’. Sustainable economic development requires substantial investment in human capital. Education raises people’s productivity and creativity, promoting entrepreneurship and technological advances. In addition, it plays a very crucial role in securing economic and social progress. Learning enriches people’s understanding of themselves and world. It improves the quality of their lives and leads to broad social benefits to individuals and society. By improving people’s ability to function as members of their communities, education and training increases social cohesion, reduces crime, and improves income distribution.


A lifelong learning framework encompasses learning throughout the life-cycle, from early childhood through to retirement. Opportunities for learning throughout a lifetime are becoming increasingly critical for countries to be competitive in the knowledge economy. The global knowledge economy is transforming the demands of the labour market throughout the world. It is also placing new demands on citizens, who need more skills and knowledge to be able to function in their day-to-day lives. A lot of learning takes place in the initial stages of a worker starting a new job, but in the knowledge economy, change is so rapid that workers constantly need to acquire new skills. Therefore, corporate spending on training has increased dramatically, as businesses realise that lifelong learning is crucial to preparing workers to compete in the global knowledge economy.

Further educational establishments have continuously faced more cuts and under-funding in comparison to schools. For the year 2015-2016 there was a 24% cut in further education in England. This has had negative implications on both training providers and prospective students.

Financial restraints have meant that some colleges have had to cancel courses and postpone investment plans. The impact has been far worse for smaller educational services, which have faced redundancies and the possibility of being shut down due to lack of funding. Core subjects demanded by employers, such as English and Maths, have suffered a drop of 9.3% compared to the previous year.

The cuts have consequences for individuals that have missed out on qualifications at school, or those who need to update their knowledge to get back into employment. Many level 3 qualifications for the 19-23 age bracket are government funded, whereas those same qualifications for those over 24 are unfunded. Therefore, level 3 may not be an affordable option to those over 24 who wish to up-skill. The government offers 24+ advanced learning loans to help this age group pay for their course, but take-up of these to date has been low.

Government cuts have had an impact on training providers, staff and students, with a declining number of adults returning to education or retraining. Due to tough times, there is a greater need for education and training, which offers both economic and social benefits.

More than 25% of Brits dream of starting their own business, but various influences hold them back. So what is the key to unleashing one’s entrepreneurial spirit?


  • Planning – Many people talk about starting a business, but don’t consider how they will put their ideas into action. Plans would need to be made on funding, skills and resources required. A realistic timetable would also need to be drawn up, with targets of what you hope to achieve and by when.


  • Time efficiency – Time is an opportunity cost. Time spent watching TV, playing Candy Crush, or going out every night could be better spent elsewhere. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy yourself, but maybe limit the hours you socialise, and reduce the time spent on daily leisure activities. Being serious about your business means giving it the priority it deserves.


  • Lifestyle Change – Starting a business means rearranging life to fit around your business. This may mean leaving your full time job with the steady pay-cheque, or even moving to another place if it benefits your business. This lifestyle change may also affect your family, especially if you have a young children to support.


  • Confidence – Starting a business is a risk, like all risks, it may or may not pay off. But you need to have the self-belief that it will succeed, because if you don’t believe in your own business then you cannot expect other people to.


  • Exposure to other Entrepreneurs – Networking and socialising with other like-minded individuals creates a sense of excitement and confidence. This is particularly important if you do not personally know any entrepreneurs, and therefore need the inspiration.