Anna Chalov, Bemuse co-founder, honoured as one of the Highly Commended top 10 in The Telegraph’s ‘100 Entrepreneurial Women to watch’ list.
What a sensational few weeks it has been for Anna Chalov, our incredible co-founder.
During the summer, whilst enjoying her morning coffee, Anna saw an advert in the Telegraph newspaper launching their first ever ‘100 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch list’. NatWest & The Telegraph launched the competition to shine a spotlight on some of the most exciting businesses in the UK, each of which are led by inspiring females.
The Rose Review (2019), which was commissioned by the HM Treasury, intended to provide an independent review of female entrepreneurship in the UK.
The review highlighted the many barriers faced by women starting and growing businesses and covered ways in which this talent could be unlocked and supported via a wide range of initiatives.
This year, almost 4 years on from the initial review, Alison Rose, CEO of NatWest spearheaded the 100 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch initiative and Anna was instantly interested in taking part.
Anna always knew that there was a gulf between the success of male and female entrepreneurs in this country and Rose confirmed this when she stated,
“We found that if women started and scaled their businesses at the same rate as men then this could contribute an extra £250 billion to the UK economy every year. Last year, women started a record number of businesses, but they still don’t receive investment on the same level as men.”
With over 700 applicants nationwide, the arduous task of choosing the top 100 (and the prestigious 10 Highly Commended) began and it was of no surprise to us (Anna’s proud colleagues) that Anna was not only selected for the top 100 BUT also was given recognition as one of the 10 Highly Commended alongside some incredible female entrepreneurs from a wide range of businesses.
From the moment Anna was contacted about her selection she found herself with a whole host of exciting engagements ahead of her – a fantastic photoshoot with the amazing photographer Sarah Brick, interviews with the Telegraph and an invitation to a 3-day event in November which was to include workshops, networking events & lavish dinners.
Anna felt blown away by what was to come and the excitement of being part of this incredible opportunity for her to not only showcase Bemuse, but also learn so much from so many inspiring people.
Anna stated, “The all-encompassing experience of Rose Review Board members in growing a fledgling business means they will have faced the same challenges that we are facing. Mentorship to share that experience, provide guidance and advise on execution of our strategy and mission will be invaluable to Bemuse.”
Once the news broke about the top 100, Anna began to prepare for her attendance at the 3-day event in London.
To kick things off, Anna was invited to a parliamentary reception alongside the other females that made the list, hosted by Caroline Nokes MP, who chairs the Women and Equalities Committee.
Anna said “It was so inspirational to speak with the other winners at the opening reception, and share our stories and ideas. The support from parliament that this initiative has is fantastic as they see the huge potential contribution that women can make to the economy”
One of the many benefits of being named as one of the 10 Highly Commended was a celebratory dinner with senior Coutts and NatWest executives which was not only a celebration of those Highly Commended in the 100, but also a huge networking opportunity and a chance to learn how Coutts and NatWest will support the winners on their continued entrepreneurial journey.
The dinner was incredible; Anna had the pleasure to meet Greg Kyle Langley, Head of Entrepreneur Propositions at Coutts, Kitty O’Shea, who runs the investment club, UK Enterprise Fund at Coutts, Yvonne Greeves, Director of Women in Business at NatWest Group and Laura Blumenthal, Media Relations Manager at NatWest. She also met 2 incredible established female entrepreneurs in Karen Hanton and Camilla Elphick.
Speaking about the team involved Anna stated, “They are so forward thinking, wanting to work with entrepreneurs really early on. Raising finance, and selling businesses can be difficult, for women in particular, so it is great to now have access to the knowledge that Coutts provides. We are so grateful for this opportunity”
Not only was the company fantastic, the food they served was too. Bemuse pride ourselves on our support for sustainability, and there is no finer example of this than the incredible garden which sits on the rooftop of the famous Coutts building right in the middle of a busy central London. Peter Fiori, Executive Chef at Coutts used a range of ingredients from the rooftop garden for the menu served to Anna and the other guests and Anna described the dishes as “sublime”. Additionally, Anna learned how there are three colonies of bees on the roof, and by helping to pollinate the fruit and vegetables, they play an invaluable role.
Another highlight for Anna at the dinner, was the opportunity to visit the Coutts Boardroom. The Chinese wallpaper that can be seen there is said to have been a gift to Thomas Coutts (1735-1822) from George Macartney (1737-1806), one of the private banks first clients. The artwork is truly magnificent and really showcases the global ambition of his business at that time.
The Women Mean Business Conference followed next for Anna, who admitted feeling quite overwhelmed at seeing her picture and her story showcased around the event space. Held at The British Museum on 23rd November, this would be the first time the event celebrated the 100 listed women during the event.
Bringing together some of the biggest names from the worlds of finance, tech, beauty and beyond the day served up a full agenda filled with panel discussions, insightful seminars and more. Anna was really truly inspired by the story from Trinny Woodall of the well-known Trinny London.
Anna also explained how she found a seminar held by the Department of International Trade to be very insightful as Bemuse look to grow into a globally recognised brand. “I really felt this opened my eyes to the level of support there is out there for our business and how we can make this work. I feel confident now that I will be given the tools & help to be able to sell Bemuse globally.”
The jam-packed conference concluded with drinks, and Anna was able to spend time with the women she had instantly become connected through thanks to this joint experience. Speaking with emotion Anna said “I really feel like we have formed a small, but powerful community. I look forward to following each and every one of the women’s journeys in the future & supporting one another as we all further our businesses.”
This experience isn’t over, and it is something Anna will never forget. The support that is to come from being recognised as one of the Highly Commended is just beginning and Anna beams as she concludes our discussion;
“I feel like the first year of this initiative has been an incredible success, and to be a part of it fills me with so much pride. I know I stand as some kind of role model now and hope the exposure I have had helps other women to take the leap into the startup space. I am already excited to see next years candidates, and don’t doubt there will be so many to choose from.”
Interviewed by Steph Briody - Chapter 3 Digital Ltd
Article written by Steph Briody - Chapter 3 Digital Ltd