An accelerator programme designed to champion diversity across the Welsh business start-up landscape has announced the winners of its inaugural awards.
The Excelerator Programme has seen 23 entrepreneurs that are young, female, disabled or from a black and minority ethnic background participate in a Welsh Government-funded 12-week immersive accelerator programme.
The programme was launched to support groups that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, to help budding entrepreneurs launch and grow their business idea or scale an existing business.
The Excelerator Programme has included expert masterclasses for founders and mentorship and professional coaching from business start-up and scaleup experts. It has been delivered as part of the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. The programme has supported 1053 businesses in Wales to create over 9000 jobs. Research led by Professor Max Mundy of Cardiff Business School has demonstrated that £17 is generated in the Welsh economy for every £1 spent on high growth business support.
The Excelerator Programme Awards took place on Friday 7th May to celebrate the achievements of the entrepreneurs taking part in the programme. An independent panel of business experts judged the awards, and the winners were as follows:
Lean Start-up Award
An award for the individual with the most innovative approach in implementing lean methodology to develop their business
Winner: Ed Willes, founder of FENTA, a peer-to-peer fashion rental market helping people save money and the planet.
Innovative Business Development Award
An award for the individual who has taken the most innovative approach to the development of their business.
Winner: Dr Youmna Mouhamad, founder of Myana Naturals, a detangling comb and lotion applicator specifically designed for natural afro hair.
Overcoming Barriers Award
An award for the individual who has overcome the biggest personal or business barriers.
Winner: Gurinder Randeva, founder of Glamdeva, an online platform to easily compare prices, book and pay for hair and makeup services anywhere in the UK.
Most Collaborative Participant Award
An award for the individual who has collaborated most effectively with fellow participants during the Excelerator Programme.
Winner: Sally Brooks, founder of Brooklands People Development Services, a development company helping people and employees to achieve their full potential.
Excelerator Programme Champion Award
An award for the individual who has shown the most commitment and positive mindset during the Excelerator Programme.
Winner: Amy Sinha, a classically trained singer and founder of Amy Sinha Ltd, a professional voice-over agency.
High Potential Business Award
An award for the individual with the highest potential business in relation to sales, job opportunities and export.
Winner: Martina Fabricci, founder of CRISPR Biotech Engineering, who has developed an accessible e-learning platform for scientific research targeted at students, scientists, academics and industry professionals.
An award for the individual who has made the most progress on their business during the Excelerator Programme.
Winner: Catherine Williams, founder of O’Honni, a luxurious lingerie brand, measuring app and support community for breast cancer survivors who have undergone mastectomy or lumpectomy surgery.
Richard Morris, Programme Director for the Accelerated Growth Programme, said: “We have been blown away by the commitment our Excelerator Programme participants have shown over the last 12 weeks. We have packed an enormous amount into a short time and have been so impressed by the dedication and tenacity of our business founders.
“The achievements of our participants are even more remarkable when you consider we are still in a pandemic, and many have had to juggle caring responsibilities and work commitments while working hard on developing their business plans.
“Everybody taking part in the Excelerator Programme has made significant progress on their business, which made judging these awards a difficult task. We congratulate our deserving winners and look forward to watching them develop their exciting businesses over the coming months and years.”
Cat Williams, the winner of the Excelerator Award, said: “It’s such an honour to be selected for this award and to be recognised for the progress I have made in the last 12 weeks, alongside all my fellow participants who have all worked incredibly hard on their businesses.
“My business was born because I am passionate about delivering a positive and empowering experience for women dealing with a life changing breast cancer diagnosis. The Excelerator Programme has helped me so much in developing my business strategy and has given me the tools and confidence I need to take my business to the next level. I now feel ready to get my brand out there, and can’t wait for the next stage of my business journey.”