‘I am delighted to support this year’s annual PRECIOUS Awards, marking 10 years. It is essential for our economy that we unlock the potential of all our entrepreneurs. It is also essential for our society that no matter what your gender or background is, you have a chance of succeeding in the UK. These awards are a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the substantial contribution of Black and Asian entrepreneurs. I am pleased to know of the support you give to women of colour in the business and work environment, and your work to create and celebrate vital role models through your awards. I would like to congratulate all the finalists, and wish you all continued success.’
Theresa May, The Prime Minister
The winners of the 10th PRECIOUS Awards 2016 were announced at an awards ceremony at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London. Launched in 2007, The PRECIOUS Awards (www.preciousawards.com) place a spotlight on a group of women whose successes have been underrepresented by wider society so far, and were founded to recognise and support women of colour in the business and work environment and create role models for future generations to follow.
The awards provide a platform to celebrate the achievements of outstanding female talent across industries. Since their launch ten years ago, they have been instrumental in informing the business community and driving change around issues of diversity and female entrepreneurial and leadership talent.
This year’s winners showcase the very best of the UK’s entrepreneurial talent and include:
- Heidy Rehman – Entrepreneur of the Year. A former research analyst for Citi bank, Heidy launched Rose & Willard, an ethical clothing house, to answer her own frustrations with the lack of sartorial choice for professional women. When working as an analyst, she noticed that many women seemed to feel pressured to adopt a more masculine dress sense, as that is what’s often associated with respect and power. ‘Clothes can communicate an awful lot about what somebody is about. What a lot of women would do is try to emulate the men and mask their femininity… What I learned later in my career was to embrace femininity; that’s when I feel the most empowered’.
- 24 year old Florence Adepoju, Founder of MDMflow, an ethical UK produced luxury cosmetics brand. Despairing at the lack of makeup for darker skin, Florence set up the company in her parents’ garden shed. The brand is now stocked in Topshop and Lena Dunham is one of her army of fans. http://www.mdmflow.com/
- Trishna Bharadia, a leading advocate for people with multiple sclerosis (MS), chronic conditions and disability. Diagnosed with MS in 2008, aged 28, she has since worked tirelessly to raise awareness about issues surrounding the condition, other chronic illness and disability.
- Nicola Dady, Chair and Founder of the brilliant Don’t Forget the Kids Charity, a non-profit voluntary organisation which provides support to children have a parent or carer living with cancer. Nicola was a single parent of two young children when she was diagnosed with late stage Transitional Cell Carcinoma (a rare form of kidney cancer). Her excellent medical team helped her cope with the severity of the situation but nobody could help her with the terrible guilt she felt as her children suffered, hence her setting up her organisation to support the children affected http://www.dontforgetthekids.co.uk/
- Dr Nicola Rollock, Deputy Director of the Centre for Research in Race and Education at the University of Birmingham. Nicola is interested in practices that enable and challenge the continued manifestation of race inequity in contemporary societies, and has written groundbreaking research on education, class and race http://www.ecu.ac.uk/profiles/dr-nicola-rollock/
Foluke Akinlose MBE, founder of the PRECIOUS Awards says:
“I created the Awards 10 years ago to increase the visibility of the incredibly talented women of colour running business and making an impact across the UK. I am so delighted that the awards have played such a vital role in influencing not just the wider business community, but also the women that we have been able to give a platform to. It’s about creating role models, raising the profile of female entrepreneurs and encouraging other women to start their own businesses. It’s an honour and privilege to acknowledge and celebrate the significant contribution that women of colour make to the British economy.”
Michelle Mendelsson, Head of EMEA Diversity and Inclusion at Credit Suisse adds:
“Congratulations on the 10th anniversary of the Precious Awards! Credit Suisse is proud to support these awards again in 2016. The awards showcase the impressive achievements of individuals and transform award winners into important role models both among their peer group and to young women aspiring to similar career paths.”
Significant women of colour who have been celebrated or lent their support to the awards in the past include: India Gary Martin, former COO of Investment Banking Technology & Operations at JP Morgan, Charlene White, journalist and ITV News presenter and Geeta Patel, co-founder and director of Stargate Capital.
This year’s sponsors and supporters include Credit Suisse and the British Library and this year’s ceremony took place at RIBA, Portland Place London during Black History Month.