Janna Horsthuis, Robinsons | finalists in the NatWest everywoman Awards | December 2020

UK’s leading awards programme for women in business unveils short list of entrepreneurs Janna Horsthuis of Robinson’s announced as national award finalist

Date: Monday 07 December 2020

22 awe-inspiring women from across the UK have been revealed as 2020 finalists in the NatWest everywoman Awards. They include environmental and
sustainability disrupters, technology innovators and visionaries who risked everything to buildtheir businesses from scratch. All are united in one common purpose- to leave the world abetter place than they found it.

Now in their 18th year, the NatWest everywoman Awards celebrate female entrepreneurs from all walks of life, providing a platform for them to share their achievements. From the founders of international multi-million-pound empires to those spearheading social enterprises for the greater good, this year’s finalists are the role models whose success will inspire future generations of female entrepreneurs. Spanning diverse industries - fashion, jewellery, design, hospitality, skincare, food, technology and social care - the 2020 finalists were chosen by a judging panel comprising some of the UK’s top business figures including Chrissie Rucker (The White Company), Helen Pattinson (Montezuma’s), Sarah Wood (Unruly), Roni Savage (Jomas Associates), Annoushka Ducas MBE (Links of London/Annoushka), Rosaleen Blair CBE (Alexander Mann Solutions), fashion designer, Melissa Odabash, Abi Wright (Spa Breaks), and Sam Smith (FinnCap).

The 2019 Alison Rose Review identified “relatable and accessible mentors and networks” as the biggest opportunities to help female entrepreneurs. The NatWest everywoman Awards provide exactly this; a community of the UK’s leading female business owners that connects them with peers, advisors and investors. Women account for 17% of business owners and there are approximately 1.5m women self employed, representing an increase of around 300,000 since before the 2008 financial crash.

The growth in the number of women in the UK becoming self-employed is unprecedented.  Historically, women have made up just over a quarter of the self employed, but since the 2008 downturn 58% of the newly self-employed have been female.  Self-employment has started decline for men, but not for women. Despite this, only one in three UK entrepreneurs is female, a gender gap equivalent of 1.1m missing businesses and a potential value add of £250bn to the UK economy if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men.

Janna Horsthuis of Robinson’s, from Isle of Man, is a finalist in The Hera Award, sponsored by Saunderson House and awarded to the most inspirational woman running a business trading for 10 years or more. Janna is the Managing Director of Robinson’s, a fifth-generation family business that began as a greengrocer and is now the Isle of Man’s largest food distributor, employing 175 staff. She grew up in the business and, despite pursuing an independent career, came back to Robinson’s with a growth plan which saw the business expand from selling fresh produce to becoming a one stop shop for all food supplies alongside floral and hamper delivery services. Janna is the sole female board member, and freely admits that 2020 has been the toughest year ever. When Covid hit the business was owed £4m by customers and owed £3m for stock, a potentially catastrophic scenario that could have meant Robinson’s could no longer supply prisons, care
homes and hospitals. She took her case to the Isle of Man government and ensured that grant money prioritised payments to suppliers. Meanwhile she flipped the wholesale business model to retail overnight, offering home deliveries, which has spawned a new independent business with £6m in projected first year sales. She finds it difficult to shake of the preconception that joining the family business was the “easy option”. On the contrary, taking on a board of nine men and driving change throughout the business has been her biggest challenge and her greatest achievement, without which she believes Robinson’s would not have survived 2020.

The award winners will be announced at an online ceremony on 3 December 2020. Additional awards on the night will include the Spirit of everywoman Award presented to a woman who has helped change the landscape for businesswomen in the UK; the everywoman Ambassador Award celebrating the success of a high-profile entrepreneur; and the Fortuna Award recognising an individual who is investing in women-run enterprises.

Speaking about the finalists, Maxine Benson MBE, co-founder of everywoman comments: “For 18 years the NatWest everywoman Awards have provided a platform to share the journeys of hundreds of entrepreneurs and we continue to encourage, embolden and empower women to follow suit. This year’s finalists have shown remarkable resilience in the face of recent extraordinary trading conditions. We believe that, by amplifying their stories, they will inspire
other women to have the courage and confidence to embrace self employment. Following the 2008 financial crash we saw a surge in female self employment and if Covid-19 has any positives, it will be the catalyst for greater innovation and enterprise.” Yvonne Greeves, Director of Women in Business, at NatWest Group, says: “We are delighted to once again be supporting these prestigious awards for some of the UK’s most talented and inspirational female entrepreneurs. At NatWest we are proud of our long standing partnership with everywoman and these awards help showcase role models that have the potential to inspire those around them and female talent from every sector across the length and breadth of the UK. Congratulations to all the shortlisted finalists and we look forward to the Awards on the 3rd December.” Georgina Fry, Chartered Financial Planner at Saunderson House adds: “In 2020, now more
than ever, it is important to celebrate the achievements of these incredibly successful women and their businesses. The Awards gives an opportunity to showcase their achievements and to inspire those who are on the same path, empowering them to think bigger, and be bolder. Saunderson House are proud to support the Hera award, giving these business women the recognition they deserve and allowing them to demonstrate how hard work and determination, despite challenging circumstances, can lead to truly great things.”

For further information or to book a table at the virtual awards ceremony, visit www.everywoman.com/ewawards