British Business Excellence Awards Insights – what is the new normal for entrepreneurship in 2021 and beyond?
Brought to you by LDC and BBEA
Monday 28th June
Jo Fairley co-founded Green & Black's chocolate with her entrepreneur husband Craig Sams. Their Maya Gold bar was the first Fairtrade-marked product to be launched. The tale of Green & Black's has now become a blueprint for sustainable business everywhere, studied in business schools and featured in countless newspaper stories, from Newsweek to the UK's The Daily Telegraph.
Jo left school at 16 and after finding her niche in journalism quickly progressed in her career, becoming the youngest ever magazine editor.
The story of Green & Black's began in 1991, when Jo discovered two delicious remaining squares from a prototype bar of the world's first organic chocolate - on the desk of her soon-to-be husband. Jo became a trailblazer, embracing the social responsibility of food producers, and it wasn't long before the Green & Black's brand was receiving awards, and transforming the fortunes of the Maya Indians who grow the cocoa beans. The Green & Black's name was chosen to represent their environmental ethos (green) and the high-quality cocoa beans used (black).
Jo is an inspiring speaker whose presentations demonstrate how determination and a willingness to take risks helped her build a successful business and exploit a niche market. She explains how a business that does good, can also be good business and covers the art of branding, how a business can be both ethical and profitable and why the intelligence of the consumer should never be underestimated.
Her own journalistic and PR skills helped build Green & Black's brand without her needing to spend a single penny on advertising until the brand was eight years old and well established.
Jo Fairley is also the author of more than a dozen books, including the Beauty Bible series. She has also been Contributing Editor to the Mail on Sunday's YOU Magazine, writing about beauty and organic living. She contributes to a very wide range of publication including Tatler, Elle and Here's Health and has her own fragrance blog www.thescentcritic.com.
Zara Lane, Origination Director, LDC
Zara is responsible for identifying ambitious business owners and management teams that would benefit from private equity investment to help achieve growth. She works across Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland. Since joining the firm in 2015 Zara has helped a broad range of businesses to secure investment and successfully accelerate their growth plans. Zara graduated with a degree in Business Management from Newcastle University in 2002, before qualifying as a chartered accountant at PwC. She worked there for three years in the firm’s transactions services team, before gaining another 10 years’ corporate finance experience at UNW LLP and Grant Thornton.
Martin Mckay, CEO, Texthelp
Martin founded Texthelp in 1996 to help people with communication difficulties. What started as a company focused on people with profound Speech and Dexterity Disabilities has become a world leading Assistive Technology company creating smart, inclusive software that helps people read, write, express their thoughts and share information more accurately & fluently – across all stages of life. His goal is to make sure that by 2030 Texthelp will have advanced the literacy and understanding of one billion people.
Martin has spent his work life developing technology for people with disabilities. In the past, he has served on the Assistive Technology Industry Association Board as well as the NIMAS board for the USA Office of Special Education Programs. In 2017, he received the Presidential Award in recognition of lifetime contribution to dyslexia and literacy from the International Dyslexia Association. He is currently serving in an advisory capacity on the Universal Design for Learning council.
Josephine Philips, Sojo
Josephine Philips, 23, is a recent graduate turned FashionTech entrepreneur working to make the fashion industry circular with her startup, Sojo. On a mission to modernise the age-old tailoring industry, Sojo is the UK’s first clothing alterations and repairs App and it connects customers to local seamster businesses to ensure that getting your clothes fixed or fitted is an easy and hassle-free process.
Julie Devonshire, Director of the Entrepreneurship Institute at King’s College London
Julie Devonshire is the Director of the Entrepreneurship Institute at King’s College London supporting students, alumni and staff to learn entrepreneurial skills, have entrepreneurial experiences and, perhaps, start a venture of their own.
King’s College London engages an audience of +30,000 in entrepreneurship annually, helping to start and scale +30 ventures each year in health, technology, creative industries and many other areas. Over the last five years, King’s ventures have collectively raised more than £20m in investment and employ +400 people.
Before joining King’s Julie was the Director of Ventures at UnLtd supporting exceptional, early stage social entrepreneurs across the country to scale and to raise investment. Julie and her team delivered support in partnership with the Big Lottery Fund, the Cabinet Office, Santander, Coutts and many others.
Julie is an award-winning social entrepreneur and business-scaling expert; she scaled One Water, a range of bottled mineral water donating 100% of its profits to build water pumps in Africa. During Julie’s time with One Water, the business grew from £0 profits to £8.2m, donated to build hundreds of water pumps across sub-Saharan Africa.
Julie is an ACCA fellow who is passionate about early-stage entrepreneurs. In 2016 Julie was awarded an OBE, in the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours List, for her service to entrepreneurship.
Sarah Austin, Awards Director