Who are the UK’s leading female entrepreneurs?

The UK is home to some of the world’s leading female entrepreneurs, and with International Women’s Day landing next week, Business Leader decided to take a closer look at them for our latest Business Leader Top 12.

If you think we have missed someone on our list, please send an email to editor@businessleader.co.uk and we can add them in.

This list is in no particular order.

Denise Coates – Founder of Bet365 Group

With an estimated net worth of $12.2 billion in 2019, Founder, majority shareholder and joint Chief Executive of online gambling company Bet365, Denise Coates was also the UK’s highest-paid boss in 2020, earning a salary of £421 million.

The eldest daughter of Stoke City F.C Chairman, Peter Coates, the multi-billionaire completed a degree in Econometrics at the University of Sheffield before launching Bet365 in 2001 and building it to a company with revenues of more than $2 billion.

Valerie Stark – CEO of Huggle

The Co-founder and CEO of location-based social app Huggle, Stark is also on the Board at Bumble and an advisor to Badoo. A former interior design student who paid for her own studies, Stark founded the company as a result of her circumstances when moving from Moscow to London.

Since then, Stark has led Huggle to one of the most popular social discovery apps in the UK, with over 50 million places logged, 3 million swipes generated and over 120,000 messages sent each day.

Ade Hassan MBE – Founder of Nubian Skin

Ade Hassan is a former finance executive who launched Nubian Skin, an inclusive underwear brand, in October 2014 after feeling frustrated by the lack of ‘nude’ lingerie and hosiery options for women of colour.

Since launching the company, Hassan and Nubian Skin have been nominated for a multitude of awards, whilst Hassan was included in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to fashion.

Anne Boden MBE – CEO of Starling Bank

Welsh tech entrepreneur Anne Boden is the CEO and Founder of the mobile-only bank Starling Bank. A Chemistry and Computer Science graduate from the University of Swansea, Boden’s previous experience also includes a stint as Chief Operating Officer at Allied Irish Banks.

Since founding Starling in 2014, Boden has led the company to four consecutive Best British Bank Awards and received an MBE for services to financial technology in 2018.

Jacqueline Gold CBE – CEO of Ann Summers

Chief Executive of Gold Group International, Ann Summers and Knickerbox, Jacqueline Gold CBE has an estimated net worth of £470 million, meaning she is estimated to be the UK’s 16th richest woman.

The daughter of renowned businessman David Gold, since becoming CEO of Ann Summers in 1987, Gold has transformed it into a household name with a turnover in excess of £100 million and 80 high street stores.

Amelia Harvey – Co-founder of The Collective Dairy

A Marketing & Communications graduate in 2001, Amelia Harvey also previously worked as a Sales Director for Gü Puds, before co-founding luxury yoghurt brand The Collective Dairy back in 2011.

In her current role as Director, Harvey leads a 25-strong team in a business which reportedly turned over more than £50 million in 2017 and is stocked in a wealth of major supermarkets and high-street stores.

Dame Mary Perkins – Co-founder of Specsavers

Bristol-born Dame Mary Perkins trained as an optometrist at Cardiff University and went on to co-found opticians chain Specsavers with her husband Doug in 1984.

Since then, Perkins’ estimated net worth has risen to £1.2bn, Specsavers has become a multinational chain with more than 2,000 branches and 32,500+ employees, and the company’s revenue for 2020/21 reached £2.73 billion.

Anne-Marie Imafidon, Co-founder of Stemettes

Anne-Marie Imafidon is one woman leading the fight to break tech’s glass ceiling, co-founding Stemettes, an award-winning social enterprise that encourages young women to pursue careers in STEM, in 2013.

A child prodigy who earned GCSEs in Maths and IT at the age of 11 and graduated with an MSc in Mathematics and Computer Science from Oxford by age 20, Imafidon has also previously worked for Goldman Sachs, Hewlett Packard, and Deutsche Bank.

Eccie Newton – CEO of Karma Kitchen

After graduating from the London School of Economics with an MSc in Terrorism and Confliction, Eccie Newton co-founded Karma Kitchen, a company that transforms industrial spaces into co-working and commercial kitchens, with her sister and current Head of Sales, Gini.

Fast-forward to today, and the company has raised over £252.3m over two funding rounds and provided their services to more than 5,000 startups and SMEs in the food and drink industry.

Dame Margaret Barbour – Chairman of J. Barbour & Sons

Since becoming Chairman of clothing firm J. Barbour & Sons, Dame Margaret Barbour has transformed the perception of the brand from rustic clothing designed for seamen, river workers and motorcyclists into an urban fashion icon in 55 countries.

Barbour also set up the Women’s Fund in 1999 to help women within Tyne & Wear and Northumberland reach their full potential, and through the Barbour Foundation, Dame Margaret has made donations of over £26m to charitable causes.

Romi Savova – CEO of PensionBee

Romi Savova is the Founder and CEO of leading online pension provider PensionBee. Since launching the company in 2014 to simplify pension savings, Savova has taken the company public, leading to an estimated company valuation of up to £384m.

An MBA graduate from Harvard Business School, her previous work experience includes spells at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Credit Benchmark.

Giovanna Lombardi – Founding Expert at Quell Therapeutics

In addition to being a Professor of Human Transplant Immunology at King’s College London, Giovanna Lombardi is one of six Founding Experts at Quell Therapeutics, a company which develops Treg cell therapies to address a range of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

Founded in 2019, London-based Quell Therapeutics has raised nearly £61m over two fundraising rounds and developed into a major UK pharmaceutical company.