Period poverty campaigner named Great British Entrepreneur of the Year 2019

Great British Entrepreneur winners

The founder of Hey Girls – a social enterprise tackling period poverty – has been crowned Great British Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2019 NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards. 

Celia Hodson was crowned Great British Entrepreneur of the Year at the Scottish regional final in October, but took the title across the whole of the UK at the National Final in London last night on Social Enterprise Day. 

Celia joins an illustrious line-up of entrepreneurs who have been crowned Great British Entrepreneur of the Year since the Awards were launched in 2013, including Alan and Juliet Barrett of Grenade, Shaun Pulfrey of Tangle Teezer, James Watt of BrewDog and Julie Deane OBE of The Cambridge Satchel Company. 

Based just outside Edinburgh, Hey Girls sells its own range of sustainable sanitary products using the ‘buy one give one’ concept which donates a pack to a girl or woman every time one is bought. Celia also spends a large portion of her time campaigning and raising awareness of the issues that many girls face when they’re unable to afford sanitary products. 

Elsewhere on the night, Bulb Energy founders Hayden Wood and Amit Gudka were named Disruptor of the Year, and Snaffling Pig founder Nick Coleman picked up the first national Food & Drink Entrepreneur of the Year award. 

Reacting to being crowned national Great British Entrepreneur of the Year, Celia said: “It’s hard to believe. It’s such a special day today as it’s Social Enterprise Day, so it’s a double whammy. You come to these things and you hope. You look at the calibre of people who have applied and are finalists, you look at the judges and think ‘Wow!’. So to win is just something else! This will make a massive difference to Hey Girls. The recognition from the Regional Final made such a difference, so this will just be fabulous for our growth.” 

Founder of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, Francesca James, said: “Celia’s journey is incredible powerful and inspirational. From going through life as a single parent on benefits, struggling to make ends meet and buy sanitary products, to forging a successful career and applying her knowledge and experience to create and build this fantastic social enterprise encompasses everything it means to be a Great British entrepreneur. 

“Four of our eight regional Great British Entrepreneurs of the Year came from the Entrepreneur for Good category, including Celia, which is a clear indication of the path businesses and entrepreneurs are heading down. Businesses with impactful, social missions placed at the very centre of what they do are winning the hearts and minds of consumers. It’s wonderful to see! 

“I’d like to congratulate all of our winners, but also the rest of the finalists. We received 3,000 entries this year and even to have got to the National Final as a regional winner is a fantastic achievement. They all have magnificent entrepreneurial stories and should be incredibly proud.” 

Gordon Merrylees, managing director of entrepreneurship at Natwest, said: “NatWest is proud to support the Great British Entrepreneur Awards celebrating another year of amazing achievements for entrepreneurs starting and growing businesses from every corner of the country. Supporting entrepreneurs is a key priority for NatWest and our dedicated programme of fully funded accelerator hubs, mentoring, insight and bespoke coaching, is specifically designed to meet the needs of entrepreneurs who want to start, scale and succeed in business. Congratulations to all of the winners and to those who were shortlisted for one of these prestigious awards.” 

Full list of national winners: 

Creative Industries Entrepreneur of the Year Dominic Davies & James Milligan | Backyard Cinema (London & South East) 

Disruptor of the Year Hayden Wood & Amit Gudka | Bulb Energy (London & South East) 

Entrepreneur for Good Award Dave Linton | Madlug (Northern Ireland) 

Entrepreneurial Spirit Award Chloe & Jeff Smith | bigmoose coffee co. (Wales) 

Entrepreneurs’ Team of the Year Jack Badger (North West) 

Family Entrepreneur of the Year Bethan & Joe John | The British Blanket Company (South West) 

Food & Drink Entrepreneur of the Year Nick Coleman | Snaffling Pig (London & South East) 

Health & Beauty Entrepreneur of the Year Stephanie Eltz | Doctify (London & South East) 

Scale-Up Entrepreneur of the Year Avin Rabheru | Housekeep (London & South East) 

Service Industries Entrepreneur of the Year Michael Asher & Anthea Morris | Better2Know (North West) 

Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year Damien Lee | Mr Lee’s Pure Foods Co (London & South East) 

Start-Up Entrepreneur of the Year Chris Renwick & Lucy Greenwood | Lucy & Yak (North West) 

Young Entrepreneur of the Year Josh Wintersgill | Able Move (South West) 

Great British Entrepreneur of the Year Celia Hodson | Hey Girls (Scotland)