Jo Loveridge of Albany Funerals from Maidstone as been shortlisted for a national award.
22 women are this year’s finalists in the 14th annual NatWest everywoman Awards. The event celebrates the achievements of women business owners.
Jo Loveridge of Albany Funerals from Maidstone has been chosen as a finalist in the Athena Award category. This Award will go to the most inspirational woman running a business which has been trading between six and nine years.
An acrimonious divorce propelled Jo Loveridge into entrepreneurship following the breakdown of her marriage. She acquired a failing funeral business from her estranged husband. She was determined to turn it around, keep the family home and provide for her children. She had just £50 in her bank account, but she had a vision for a pioneering funeral business.
Jo planned to offer a community service to those suffering from grief and innovative celebrations of life at beautiful venues alongside more traditional cremations and church burials. In just three years Jo has more than doubled turnover and invested back in the business through more staff.
Jo now runs social and community events such as friendship coffee mornings for the recently bereaved and an annual balloon release in memory of friends and relatives. Her success has earned her a recommendation in the Good Funeral Guide and a loyal following far beyond her immediate geographical area alongside client praise for organising “the best funeral we could ever wish for”.
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 percent versus 10 percent.
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 ten years, proving the need to provide a better environment in which women-led entrepreneurial businesses will succeed at similar levels as for men. These steps could benefit the companies, stakeholders and, ultimately, the national economy.
The FSB’s 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 commented: “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.”
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 December 7 at a lunch reception at The Dorchester Hotel attended by over 300 leading figures from business, politics, the media and the City.