There are a growing number of female entrepreneurs leaving an indelible mark on the UK economy. Their businesses are making significant contributions to society and the economy, creating jobs and prosperity for some of the lesser-known towns and cities in Britain. Who would have known that Stoke-on-Trent would become known as one of the capitals of the European gambling industry? Thanks to the foresight of Denise Coates, who founded bet365 in 2001, the brand has become one of the largest iGaming firms on the planet. This is due largely to its bold diversification into casino gaming, with one of the top five promotion codes in the UK market in 2023.
There are many other areas of the UK that have benefitted from the ambition and innovation of women entrepreneurs, five of which we’ll explore in more detail below in a bid to inspire the next generation of businesswomen in Norfolk and beyond.
38-year-old Sara Davies MBE is a leading British entrepreneur. She made her name with the success of her business, Crafter’s Companion, a commercial concern she launched whilst still an undergraduate student at the University of York. Davies has been a ‘Dragon’ on the iconic BBC television show Dragons’ Den, investing in many other inspiring business ideas from fellow entrepreneurs nationwide. Davies’ Crafter’s Companion business continues to go from strength to strength and is the number-one portal for arts and crafts in the UK.
Poppy Gustafsson became the youngest CEO of a business listed in the FTSE 350 index. It’s quite an achievement considering she co-founded Cambridge-based cybersecurity specialist firm Darktrace in 2013, aged only 30. In 2021, Darktrace took the bold move to go publicly listed with the London Stock Exchange. Gustafsson and Darktrace are working hard to blaze a trail for online safety for consumers and businesses alike. Gustafsson was also awarded an OBE for her services to cybersecurity in 2019.
Michelle Kennedy is the prime example of a female entrepreneur that’s helped to raise awareness and tackle big societal issues for the greater good. With women increasingly open with friends and loved ones about their personal health, Kennedy devised an app called Peanut – a social network for like-minded women going through various stages of life, be it maternity, parenthood or the menopause. The platform has gone from strength to strength, securing Series A funding worth $12 million in May 2020. Kennedy’s success shows the potential in driving forward with a business idea in an underserved market, ripe for disruption.
Dr. Nadine Hachach-Haram
Dr. Nadine Hachach-Haram is another significant role model for women in business. Hachach-Haram is a consultant plastic surgeon and director of clinical innovation and strategic partnerships at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Hospital. She followed her passion to launch a company called Proximie, underpinned by the advancements of augmented reality (AR) to enable surgeons and doctors to virtually ‘transport’ themselves into any operating theatre on the planet. This has enabled world-leading visual and practical surgical collaboration on a scale never been seen before. Proximie proved invaluable throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with a fifth of all NHS hospitals utilising Proximie’s software to reduce the number of staff in operating theatres.
Alison Rose is another of the most respected women in British business. She was named CEO of NatWest bank in 2019, having spent the previous 27 years working her way up the NatWest ladder. In doing so, Rose became the first female CEO of one of the so-called ‘Big Four’ British banks. Rose’ seniority has also seen the UK government lean on her view and expertise to report on the barriers to women launching a career in business. The now-iconic Rose Review was published in March 2019. Because of her report, the government stated its goal to foster a 50% rise in the number of female entrepreneurs by 2030.
There’s no doubt that this quintet of female entrepreneurs have shown the way in recent years – and will look to do so for years to come. Any fledgling female entrepreneurs in Norfolk would be best served to research these individuals in more detail to gain further inspiration, if needed, at the start of your business journeys.