Inspiring the next generation of remarkable female entrepreneurs

2016 NatWest everywoman Awards. Photo by Steve Dunlop

I recently attended the launch of the 16th NatWest everywoman Awards, hosted by Amazon at its new Shoreditch HQ.  Having been involved in the awards for over a decade, I’ve been privy to the stories shared by winners and nominees and they never fail to inspire and humble.

When I speak to the many female business owners I have the privilege to meet through the course of my work, many express reluctance to put themselves forward, hesitant to be in the spotlight and citing discomfort around acknowledging their success publicly.

Yet it is this success along with their drive, motivation and tenacity that is the most important part of these awards, ensuring other women see that they too can turn a seed of an idea into business reality.

Four previous winners shared their experiences of the awards at the launch.  All cited the immense media attention as a result of their wins that has supported approaches for funding, secured speaker opportunities and opened up networking opportunities.  Brand of the Future winner, Whitney Bromberg-Hawkins, said “People take us more seriously with this win” whilst Anne Timpany believes it provides “the opportunity to shake the industry up.”  Another former winner rushed up to thank me at the awards ceremony some years ago.  She believed the media exposure “got her on a list” which in turn led to her being invited to sit on a government committee and many other business enhancing opportunities.

Recent analysis has shown that in the last three years alone, our media campaign for the NatWest everywoman Awards has reached over three billion people via 500 plus media inclusions, of which 93 were in national newspapers and seven were national or international broadcast interviews.

These results have contributed to a changing landscape for women in business.  Technology, along with the flexibility offered by self-employment, have also contributed to a sharp increase in women becoming entrepreneurs. Easier access to finance has also played an important role and long term everywoman partner, NatWest, reports a 30% uplift in lending to women over the duration of its support.

Women’s issues have never been more in the news following the #metoo #timesup and Gender Pay Gap campaigns that have dominated the headlines this year, demonstrating that women can be a formidable force for change.  That change will see growing numbers of young girls inspired to achievements of which their parents and grandparents could only dream.  But they can’t be what they can’t see, which means that every woman running a business is a role model and one who could inspire the next Chrissie Rucker, Cath Kidston, Anita Roddick or Mary Perkins.  Who wouldn’t want to do that?

The NatWest everywoman Awards are free to enter. Entries close 2 July.

2016 NatWest everywoman Awards. Photo by Steve Dunlop