Everywoman, the leading organisation for the advancement of women in business, has launched its annual search for the UK’s leading female entrepreneurs. The NatWest everywoman Awards is the most highly regarded programme celebrating the achievements of UK-based women business owners. For 16 years, the awards have recognised the success of women from a wide variety of industries, uncovering strong and authentic role models who challenge preconceptions and provide confidence and inspiration in equal measure.
Judged by successful female business owners, who themselves have been on the entrepreneurial journey, the awards distinguish between the challenges of the start-up years through scale up and international expansion. The judges, including Chrissie Rucker OBE, Cath Kidston MBE, Amanda Wakeley OBE and Poonam Gupta OBE, also look at how technology, innovation, diversity and social impact have helped businesses to thrive and grow.
A recent report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers looking at the UK’s gender pay gap – an issue that has dominated headlines since 9,000 firms were made to publish their figures on 5 April – found that encouraging female entrepreneurship in the UK will play a key role in closing the earnings divide between men and women4. Inspiring and genuine role models are crucial in helping women to overcome confidence issues with many attracted to the flexibility, freedom and control offered by self-employment.
Female entrepreneurship has increased exponentially over the lifetime of the NatWest everywoman Awards with women starting 126,000 businesses annually, representing 7.3% of economic growth1. Whilst a positive step forward, Britain is still missing out on an estimated 1.2 million businesses due to the untapped potential of women2. In the UK alone, women-owned SMEs contribute approximately £75 billion to overall economic output and increasing female participation in the sector by just 4% would take their overall economic contribution to more than £180 billion by 20253.
Karen Gill MBE, co-founder of everywoman, says: “The impact these awards have on those who are nominated cannot be underestimated. Our winners go on to secure investment, mentors, government recognition and profile in the media as a result of the exposure and credibility these awards bring to their businesses. We have always been passionate about the importance of role models – in the words of Marian Wright Edelman, ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’; 74% of our everywomanNetwork membership cite role models as a major source of their inspiration and this, coupled with the economic impact of more female entrepreneurs, mean that the NatWest everywoman Awards continue to be both relevant and essential.”
2017 Woman of the Year Victoria Robertshaw of Keelham Farm Shop, comments: “Winning the NatWest everywoman Award has been a truly uplifting experience for me and the team at Keelham Farm Shop. It is such a great platform to shout about our achievements as a business and the whole team has felt a real sense of pride. The award brought some great publicity to the brand and the programme is immeasurable in terms of its importance for women in business.”
Yvonne Greeves, Head 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 400 externally accredited Women in Business specialists who understand our customers’ ambitions and provide business advice, mentoring and networking opportunities.”
The 2018 NatWest everywoman Awards are free to enter here and the deadline for entry is 2 July 2018.
The 2018 award categories are:
ARTEMIS - Awarded to the most inspirational woman running a business trading for 18 months to 3 years
DEMETER - Awarded to the most inspirational woman running a business trading from 3 to 5 years
ATHENA – Awarded to the most inspirational woman running a business trading from 6 to 9 years
HERA – sponsored by EDF Energy - Awarded to the most inspirational woman running a business trading for 10 years or more
GAIA - Awarded to the most inspirational and successful female founder of a social enterprise who has combined strong community benefit with a sustainable business model
APHRODITE – sponsored by Daily Mail - Awarded to a woman who founded her business whilst raising a child/children aged 12 or under
BRAND OF THE FUTURE - sponsored by The White Company - awarded to the female founder of a business that demonstrates great potential for growth
This year’s winners will be announced at a ceremony held on 5 December 2018 at The Dorchester.
1 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor
2 Federation of Small Businesses
4 PwC 2017 Gender Pay Report