22 extraordinary women whose vision and tenacity have driven their entrepreneurial success have been named as this year’s finalists in the 14th annual NatWest everywoman Awards, the UK’s most prestigious event celebrating the achievements of women business owners.
Helena Beard of China Travel Outbound from Brighton has been chosen as a finalist in the Artemis Award category, sponsored by Crystal Clear – this Award will go to the most inspirational woman running a business which has been trading for a minimum of 18 months up to three years.
Last year over 120 million Chinese spent nearly $200 billion travelling overseas offering enormous potential for British tourism brands. Helena Beard founded China Travel Outbound to help these organisations capitalise on this growing market, offering them access to the Chinese tour operators, media and digital platforms using a UK based marketing agency offering payment in sterling and contracts under English law.
After a long career in travel marketing, Helena jointly launched China Travel Outbound, but a split with her co-owners and supplier issues led to a downward spiral and very nearly saw the business self-combust with no clients. Taking advice from Entrepreneurial Spark, she abandoned a second business concept and returned to run China Travel Outbound herself, quickly growing a customer base whilst simultaneously learning as much about the market as possible. In just 12 months Helena has acquired a client list that boasts VisitBrighton, Royal Museums Greenwich and Hard Rock Cafe amongst others and a sales pipeline that includes a premiership football club, hotels, attractions and a West End musical. She has launched an office in Beijing and now lectures in marketing to further support her family whilst the core business becomes more established.
The surge of entrepreneurship has been one of the most encouraging business trends of the last decade with record numbers of new business registrations. The prospect of lighter regulation, lower corporation tax, an enviable pool of talent and venture capital funding makes the UK one of the easiest countries to launch and grow a business. Yet the rate of women-led business start-ups remains significantly lower than that of men – 5.7% versus 10%. Research undertaken by Deloitte suggests that targeted help for early stage women entrepreneurs could provide a £100bn boost to the UK economy over the next 10 years, proving the need to provide a better environment in which women-led entrepreneurial businesses will succeed at similar levels as for men, thereby benefiting the companies, stakeholders and, ultimately, the national economy. The FSB agrees, with its report by the Women’s Business Council suggesting that the UK is missing out on some 1.2 million enterprises due to the untapped business potential of women and recommends more visible and diverse role models as one of its seven key recommendations
Speaking about the finalists, everywoman Co-founder Maxine Benson MBE comments, “The ambition, success and humility of our finalists make them all strong accessible role models for other women and girls considering starting their own business. Gender has never been a barrier to great ideas or initiatives and this year’s finalists bear that out. We live in one of the best countries for entrepreneurship and there is no better place for enterprise to flourish, as our finalists prove. We wish them continued success and good 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 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 340 externally accredited Women in Business specialists who understand our customers’ ambitions and provide business advice, mentoring and networking opportunities.”
Sharon Hilditch MBE, Founder and CEO of Crystal Clear International, said: “We are very proud to be involved with everywoman and the work that they do to advance women in business. Sponsoring the Artemis award this year is fantastic, as it means we get to help recognise a relatively new business woman and her success so far. Having these kind of amazing achievements early on can really help spur you on and keep you going towards something even more wonderful!”
The awards were judged by 19 of the country’s most successful businesswomen including Chrissie Rucker MBE, Cath Kidston MBE, Julia Hands MBE, Amanda Wakeley OBE and Rosaleen Blair. The winners will be announced on Wednesday 7th December at a lunch reception at The Dorchester Hotel attended by over 300 leading figures from business, politics, the media and the City.
Notes to editors
The Awards Judges
- Sarah Anderson CBE, Director, Simple Solutions UK
- Maxine Benson MBE, Co-founder, Everywoman Ltd
- Rosaleen Blair, Founder and CEO, Alexander Mann Solutions
- Jessica Butcher, Co-founder and Director, Blippar
- Lynne Cadenhead, Director and CEO, Emotional Sciences Ltd & Bio ID Security
- Celia Duncan, Women’s Editor, Daily Mail
- Karen Gill MBE, Co-founder, Everywoman Ltd
- Wendy Hallett MBE, Managing Director, Hallett Retail – The Concession People
- Julia Hands MBE, Chairman and Chief Executive, Hand Picked Hotels Ltd
- Joanna Hansford, Managing Director, Jo Hansford
- Sharon Hilditch MBE, Founder and CEO, Crystal Clear International
- Cath Kidston MBE, Founder, Cath Kidston Limited
- Anna Lee, Co-founder, STORM Watches
- Avril Owton MBE, Proprietor, Cloud Hotel
- Chrissie Rucker MBE, Founder, The White Company
- Rita Sharma OBE, Founder and Managing Director, Best At Travel
- Sam Smith, CEO, finnCAP
- Ruth Sunderland, Associate City Editor, Daily Mail
- Amanda Wakeley OBE, Founder and Creative Director, Amanda Wakeley
everywoman is an expert in the advancement of women in business.
We deliver a range of innovative products and resources that unlock the potential and talent of women in business globally. We also uncover success stories and elevate role models to support and inspire others across a diverse range of sectors.
Our clients range from companies who want to develop and retain a pipeline of female leaders, through to individual women who are committed to driving their future success and inspiring others.
For those women starting out or looking to progress their careers, the everywomanNetwork provides a wealth of personal development resources, advice, and inspiration to address challenges faced at key stages in business. Topics covered include confidence, time management, leadership, communications, presentation, well-being and profile. Available 24/7 with no geographic boundaries, these resources are inspiring tens of thousands of women in over 100 countries to achieve their career ambitions.
Managers and future leaders of tomorrow have access to offline events and leadership programmes that equip them with the confidence and competence to lead and develop high performing teams.
For those in senior management, everywomanClub provides cross-sector networking and thought leadership. Members are profiled as role models through a variety of initiatives that are shared with thousands of women globally.
Importantly, we understand that role models exist at every level in business and our Award programmes profile the women who will inform and inspire future leaders and the next generation.
NatWest is proud to lead the way as the pioneering Bank for women’s enterprise. Each year, more and more women are launching their own businesses, and for many, it’s a big decision with a number of challenges to overcome. Recognising these unique challenges and the contribution that women business owners make to the UK economy, NatWest has a network of over 340 externally accredited Women in Business specialists across the UK offering specialist support, practical guidance and networking opportunities to female entrepreneurs. We are proud to work closely with organisations like everywoman that also promote and support women’s enterprise.
For more information, visit http://business.natwest.com/business/womeninbusiness.html, or call us on 0345 711 4477.
About Crystal Clear
Founded by Sharon Hilditch, MBE in 1995, Crystal Clear quickly established itself to become one of the leading professional anti-ageing skincare brands, supplying global celebrities, salons and customers alike with a specialist range of luxury skincare products and pioneering treatments. Crystal Clear’s success has been built upon its commitment to the research and development of new and ground breaking products, with a passion for providing exceptional treatments that deliver outstanding results.