Last week saw me attend the 2012 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of The Year Awards, London and South East finals. I was up for London and South Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 along with Cambian Group, Eco2, Harrison Catering Services and Shiply.com. Unfortunately I didn’t win this round, but a worthy winner, Ratheesan Yoganathan of Lebara, went on to be placed into the national awards.
Lebara was a worthy winner of the telecoms section of the awards with one billion users, £750 million revenue and highly profitable. They have given 50% of the shares of their company to other companies with good causes and they currently feed 16,000 underprivileged people around the world everyday. Pretty remarkable!
It is great to see entrepreneurs being recognised for the great contribution they are making to the private sector. I definitely saw a huge amount of success in the room, and to see so many businesses doing well and striving over the past year is really encouraging.
The awards are in their 26th year and they recognise entrepreneurs across the globe. The regional finals were recognising those businesses in the area that have tried to grow a global brand, such as Powwownow. A few stats which I found really interesting were that the regional finalist entrepreneurs had generated more than 63,000 jobs, had grown businesses by 20% since last year and had combined revenues of £18 billion, in spite of tough economic times, which is great to see.
In my opinion there definitely needs to be a shift in the way entrepreneurism is funded and supported in the UK. These awards recognise that there are some great businesses out there that are doing well, but equally there are many that aren’t succeeding as a result of lack of investment, funding and support to start-ups to help during that hard first year.
We absolutely need to encourage more entrepreneurialism in the UK if we ever want to stand a chance at competing with the likes of America in terms of intuitive start-ups. We are slowly getting there and schemes such as the National Loan Guarantee Scheme (NLGS), but if anything the awards only highlighted that if this is the success that we can have without the additional funding and support that is needed – image what we could achieve if we had it?