The Great British Entrepreneur Awards Diversity & Inclusion Champions, in partnership with SumUp, is a new initiative created to shine a spotlight on entrepreneurs who are making bold strides in their efforts to improve diversity and inclusion within their business, industry and wider society.

Diversity and Inclusion Champs

While the Covid-19 pandemic has taken much of our attention over the past 18 months, it’s easy to forget the struggles that have been ever-present for certain communities since long before the pandemic. Now, more than ever, it’s important to project the voices of those least represented in business and in society. By selecting a variety of entrepreneurs who are striving for change, equality and inclusion, the Great British Entrepreneur Awards Diversity & Inclusion Champions aims to provide at least a small part of the recognition these individuals deserve.  

Felizitas Lichtenberg, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at SumUp, said: “SumUp is delighted to support and recognise entrepreneurs that help to increase equality within their businesses.

“Driven by our mission to foster change and empower societies, SumUp is happy to support the Great British Entrepreneur Awards in their work going forward. SumUp’s goal has always been to enable small businesses to thrive. Empowering people belongs to our company values.”

Pamela Aculey – Just Like Me Books

Pamela Aculey is a multi-talented entrepreneur and founder of Just Like Me Books. Making diversity and inclusion a focal point of her life, Just Like Me Books is a small illustrated books business that utilises augmented reality to represent the underrepresented, striving to showcase minority and disabled characters in children’s stories.

Pamela launched the business in 2017 after her eldest son was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and they struggled to find diverse literature where children like Walter could see themselves. “If all children could see people who looked like them doing amazing things; could you imagine what that spark could do in their mind for their future?” Pamela says.

Ritchie Mehta – School of Marketing

Ritchie Mehta is founder and CEO of the School of Marketing, a skill-based training and development provider which helps industry leaders to take their marketing skills to the next level. Ritchie uses his position to close the access gap for those from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds, striving for not just equal representation but equal education and opportunity.

Passionate about diversity and inclusion, Ritchie says: “Actively encouraging diversity, equality and inclusion sits at the heart of the mission and purpose of the School of Marketing, where we champion individuals from diverse backgrounds to get into the marketing industry.“

Sara Osterholzer – The Good Business Club

Sara Osterholzer is co-founder of The Good Business Club and a talented business specialist, mentor and impact entrepreneur aiming to rebuild a variety of outdated foundations of systems that simply work in a modern, diverse society. The Good Business Club is a membership network of promising businesses that focuses on purpose rather than just profits. 

Sara aims to include a diverse background of people and businesses in The Good Business Club network. Affordable costs and determining the value of both their members and their own staff through their individual qualities rather than a CV is a cornerstone of the business.

Sara says: “We have a recruitment strategy that looks for qualities, not experience on a CV and for our most recent recruitment we had an interview board to extinguish any biases in the recruitment process.”

Nate Macabuag – Koalaa

Nate Macabuag is also founder of Koalaa, a prosthetics design company inspired by Nate’s encounter with quadruple amputee Alex Lewis. In addition to creating unique prosthetics for amputees, Nate’s dedication to diversity and inclusion go one step further, including those very people at the heart of the business. Koalaa’s team includes a variety of differently-abled advisors and employees.

Nate says: “As a company, Koalaa was born from a drive to improve accessibility and opportunities for everyone – no matter their circumstances. We are incredibly proud of the breadth of diversity within our tight-knit team and Koalaa’s staff demonstrates the range of abilities available to companies when they don’t consider race, disability or gender to be a factor.”

Amelia Gammon – Bide

Amelia Gammon is founder of Bide and a gay mother of four who is incredibly passionate about inclusion, the planet and her children’s future. Bide is a social enterprise designed to support people and the planet, offering the world’s first home manufacturing network to empower people to work from home. Bide has a specific focus on marginalised groups and unemployed people, partnering with a variety of charities to address the most common and challenging issues facing women, refugees, people with disabilities and other marginalised communities.  

Amelia says Bide also looks internally to see where it can offer support: “We pride ourselves in our championing the unchampioned and expect the same of our suppliers in terms of their equal opportunity records and supporting minorities in the workplace. We evaluate partner environmental and social credentials and work with those who review, sign and commit to the bide code of conduct.”

Helene Virolan & Avye Couloute – Girls Into Coding

Helene Virolan and her daughter Avye Couloute are the co-founders of Girls Into Coding, an education provider encouraging young girls into STEM activities, education and careers through workshops and events. With Avye starting to code at the age of 7, they soon began to notice that the other attendees were primarily boys. Girls Into Coding offers a wide range of free resources and events to encourage girls, particularly girls of colour, into coding.

Discussing their consistent championing of those who need it most, the mother and daughter say: “We promote diversity in many ways. From our diverse range of mentors, the images we select and include for our online presence and marketing. all the way through to the photographs and accompanying visuals we use in our regular articles and newsletters.”

Rose Ovensehi – Flora & Curl

One of 2020’s Forbes 30 Under 30, Rose Ovensehi is the founder of Flora & Curl, a natural haircare brand designed specifically for curly, coily, kinky and black afro hair. Having tried to distance herself from her natural, textured hair for years, Rose realised the damage it was doing to her hair and scalp, and set about embracing her own hair and encouraging others to do the same.

While proud of the impact she’s had, Rose highlights there’s still a need for drastic change in the hair and beauty industry: “There is a need for authentic visibility to ensure that products and services are marketed well. It comes in the form of good research. In addition, women of colour have amazing buying power, and we are showing up by exchanging value, understanding, empathy, quality and good experiences for that buying power.”

Jamie McAnsh & Charlott Fagergard – See No Bounds

Jamie McAnsh and Charlott Fagergard are the co-founders of See No Bounds, a unique online community for small businesses, especially those created by disabled entrepreneurs and those targeting disabled customers. The pair launched the business after Jamie was paralysed from the waist down in 2014. Dedicated to creating opportunities, See No Bounds provides support and resources to enable disabled people to engage in a long and fulfilling career and work comfortably at home.

Giving a brief insight into their powerful attitude, the presence of passion is apparent when the two say: “It is not about who a person is or where they have come from, it is about how to  get them to understand that they have the ability to change the world even if it is one person at a time.”

Karis Gill & Aayush Goyal – Social Stories Club

Karis Gill and Aayush Goyal are the co-founders of Social Stories Club, a social enterprise creating socially conscious gift boxes and hampers. Every single product has a cause behind it, and diversity is at the very heart of the business. When launching the business, Karis and Aayush were determined to hire a diverse range of people from different races, religions, regions and backgrounds who speak several languages. Now, Social Stories Club boasts a robust set of non-discriminatory hiring practices, with a deep understanding of biases to ensure no one is subject to any form of discrimination.

Discussing the challenges they consistently battle when it comes to diversity and inclusion, the two said: “We attend regular events to receive updates on human rights, equality, and diversity in the workplace. We understand common hiring biases such as beauty bias and actively work to reduce these in the hiring process. We work with a social enterprise when hiring called Adopt an Intern which actively champions diversity and puts our advert through software to make sure the language used doesn’t lend itself towards men.”

Waltraud Pospischil, Steve McNaught & Jamie Nixon – Arkbound Foundation

Waltraud Pospischil, Steve McNaught and Jamie Nixon are the co-founders of the Arkbound Foundation, a charitable social enterprise publisher that seeks to widen access to literature across the world and fuel diversity in countless environments. It works with authors from a wide range of backgrounds to show them that they don’t need to adhere to stereotypes to see their work published.

Discussing their unmet drive for diversity, the trio say: “We put our money, energy, entrepreneur skills, financial management and forecasts, our outreach opportunities and service provisions, our workplace, training and work experience inclusion, our communications and networking, right where our mouth is: We are pioneers in improving diversity, equality and inclusion, it was what we were made for, our driving force, our proactive inspiration to meet and overcome challenges, it is right at the heart of why we are here and what we do.”