I am extremely proud to be shortlisted for the NatWest Everywoman Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Nobody likes bragging or crowing about their own achievements. However, I believe that when you are a female entrepreneur it is your duty to shout your achievements from the rooftops and to encourage others to champion all the incredible women who are running businesses of all shapes and sizes. Time and time again research shows the value of role modelling in encouraging more women to start their own businesses. In the UK less than one in three businesses are led by women and yet entrepreneurship is vital to the future health of the UK economy, especially in such uncertain times.
The Rose report revealed that closing the entrepreneurial gender gap could add as much as £250 billion to the UK economy over the next 10 years. We need more female entrepreneurs. Our economy needs more female entrepreneurs. And to make that happen we need more female entrepreneurs that are prepared to stand up and be counted. Women who are prepared to own their achievements. When I see other women who have walked the road before me - pioneers of female entrepreneurship - I am inspired to aim higher, push further, achieve greater.
I also believe that entrepreneurship needs a serious rebrand. I think that many of us associate the word entrepreneur with an outdated male stereotype pursuing financial gain and ignoring the needs of society. I would argue that in fact the opposite is true - entrepreneurs solve some of society’s greatest problems, create jobs, opportunities and often benefit the communities in which they operate. Many economists, historians and futurologists predict that as AI disrupts the modern workforce, entrepreneurship will be invaluable in helping us create new jobs to work with new technologies rather than being replaced by them.
In the past I balked at being labelled a ‘female’ entrepreneur rather than just an entrepreneur but I can feel the magic in the movement that is building. In the extraordinary and inspirational collection of women that are inspired to close the entrepreneurial gender gap. That is why events that celebrate female achievements and female entrepreneurs are so important. They are important because they light the way for the women that are rising up behind us inspired to create their own businesses.
Even the judging day for the NWE female entrepreneur of the year awards was inspirational for me. From the extraordinary women on the judging panel to the room filled with women who had started their own successful businesses. There was a power and energy to it that was electric. One of the judges in my category - Rosaleen Blair CBE founder of Alexander Mann and a pioneer in the global workforce solutions industry was a particular inspiration to me. Not only has she built an incredible global business that turns over hundreds of millions of pounds, but even through the judging process I could feel her passion for supporting other female entrepreneurs - it was as if she was willing me to succeed. To succeed like she had. It was the same with the other judges: Annoushka Ducas MBE who founded Links of London and Annoushka; Harriet Hastings who founded Biscuiteers; and Julie Deane who founded the Cambridge Satchel Company. These women represent a new breed of female entrepreneurs and leaders - women who are passionately invested in promoting and supporting other female founders.
I am proud to be in their company and to play my part in lighting the way for the next generation of women who are ripping up the rule book, smashing through the disadvantages they face and creating opportunities for those around them. To my fellow finalists in the Hera category, I truly wish you all the best, it is an honour to stand with you and celebrate female entrepreneurship in all its glory.
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