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.”