These women represent huge diversity in terms of industry, background, experience, age and location in this, the 13th year of the UK’s leading programme celebrating female entrepreneurs.
The business owners range from those demonstrating hunger and promise as start-up founders, to those leading multi-million pound global empires or those spearheading social enterprise for greater good.
Despite their incredibly diverse backgrounds and stories, all the founders share a passion, commitment and drive to succeed.
More Britons than ever are saying that now is a good time to start their business, with 27.3% stating this in the recent NatWest Entrepreneurship Monitor. However, women are less likely to say this than men (25% vs 31%), which is why the NatWest everywoman Awards play such a vital part in challenging and changing mind-sets. These Awards raise awareness of the many and varied options available and create accessible role models for others to aspire to.
The finalists announced show resolve and ambition, but also humility.
This year’s stories will inspire every woman to pursue her enterprise goals. Among finalists are the young woman who began working aged just 16 to support her family and is now turning over millions, the future music mogul who is set to turn the streaming industry on its head and the savvy beauty expert who spotted an opportunity to purchase a failing business and completely reinvent it. 2015 also sees the inclusion of a new category, the Aphrodite Award, recognising the numerous mums who have juggled the challenges of bringing up young children while launching their business dreams.
Speaking about the finalists, everywoman co-founder Maxine Benson MBE comments, “Thirteen years ago, there were very few role models who women could identify with, and that’s why we launched this programme. Today it is commonplace to read of women starting a business, but the extent and scale of their success is often overlooked. That’s why this year we amended our award criteria, and the categories now reflect the age of the business, not the individual. It is crucial to shout about the success women are achieving, sometimes in a short space of time, and often having established sustained growth over many years. These 19 finalists are phenomenal, and our judges were greatly impressed by the passion and determination they demonstrated, we wish them all the best of luck.”
Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise at NatWest, said: “We are very proud to recognise these women, who are not just successful in their own businesses, but are also 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 250 externally accredited Women in Business specialists who understand our customers’ ambitions and provide business advice, mentoring and networking opportunities.”
The finalists in the 2015 NatWest everywoman Awards are:
The Artemis Award – sponsored by Crystal Clear International - for the most inspirational woman running a business which has been trading for between 18 months and three years:
- Eleanor Heatley, Luminis
- Suzanne Brock, Nutriment Ltd
- Victoria Corcoran, The Pets Country Manor
The Demeter Award – sponsored by Worldpay - for the most inspirational woman running a business which has been trading for between three and six years:
- Noreen Finnamore, Buckley & Beale Ltd
- Poppy Mardall, Poppy’s Funerals
- Tamara Gillan, Cherry London
The Athena Award - for the most inspirational woman running a business which has been trading for between seven and eleven years:
- Ayesha Vardag, VARDAGS
- Clare Johnston, The Up Group
- Sarah Asfour, Funkyhampers.com
The Hera Award – for the most inspirational woman running a business which has been trading for 12 years or more:
- Debbie Edgar, Dragon Infrastructure Solutions Ltd
- Gillian Pearson, Newberry International Produce & Smootheelicious Ltd
- Joanna Chin, Langland
- Julia Minchin, Hippychick Ltd
The Iris Award – sponsored by IBM – for the most inspirational and successful female entrepreneur who runs a business that uses technology in an innovative and disruptive way.
- Alice Taylor, MakieLab
- Jen Hyatt, Big White Wall
- Juliana Meyer, SupaPass
The Aphrodite/ Mumpreneur Award – sponsored by the Daily Mail – this award will go to a woman who founded her business whilst raising a child/children aged 12 or under.
- Lynda Harding, Sweet Dreamers Ltd
- Nova smith, Direct E-Trading Ltd
- Sarah Pittendrigh, Simply Bows and Chair Covers
The winners of the six categories will be announced on Wednesday 2nd December at The Dorchester Hotel and a further three will be unveiled on the day:
- The Spirit of everywoman Award will honour a woman whose pioneering contribution has changed the landscape for women in business. Previous winners have included Baroness Brady, Dame Stella Rimmington, Dame Jenni Murray and Moira Stuart OBE.
- The everywoman Ambassador Award will be presented to a successful woman whose achievements and high profile are inspiring more young women to consider entrepreneurship. Previous winners have included Jo Malone MBE and Kelly Hoppen MBE.
- New for 2015: The Brand of the Future Award - sponsored by The White Company - presented by founder Chrissie Rucker MBE to a woman whose early stage business is seen to demonstrate huge potential for growth.
All finalists and winners have been chosen from a judging panel comprising a number of names behind some of the UK’s most successful businesses, including Amanda Wakeley OBE, Sharon Hilditch MBE and Cath Kidston MBE.