News

14th September 2021

EY has announced the regional winners of its 2021 Entrepreneur Of The Year™ programme, with seven of London and the South East’s most inspirational entrepreneurs recognised. They join 20 other entrepreneurs, representing 16 businesses, from across the country in the UK finals.   

Among the London and South East winners through to the finals in October are the co-founder of the UK’s foremost online florists, an entrepreneur at the forefront of infection prevention technology, and the CEO and founder of one of the UK’s brightest jewellery businesses.   

Vashi Dominguez, founder of London-based Vashi (Diamond Manufacturers) is an entrepreneur revolutionising the way consumers buy diamond jewellery. He has triumphed in the Disruptor category.

Having been an industry expert for over 20 years and fascinated by diamonds and fine jewellery from a young age, Vashi created his own unique online offer, later branching out into retail stores and involving his customers in the creative process of designing bespoke jewellery pieces.

The judges commented that Vashi showed clear evidence of improving diversity via employee recruitment and retention. They also felt that he demonstrated excellent domestic growth, with strong future international expansion plans. The judges also noted that his strategic direction continues to challenge the norm with high levels of consumer engagement in the manufacturing process.

Mahiben Maruthappu, of Cera Care, a London-based healthcare technology business, has also been recognised in the Rising Star category. Mahiben’s company allows families to arrange and manage home care for elderly relatives, using a digital platform to match people seeking in-home assistance with a carer, or care team.  

Mahiben’s work to grow the company in a very short period was a positive highlight for the judges, showing clear evidence of value to clients, carers and employees. The judges felt that he displayed an impressive combination of problem solving and use of technology, with a clear vision of the future.

Representing London and South East’s Scale Up category at this year’s UK final will be Aron Gelbard, co-founder and CEO of the UK’s foremost online florists, Bloom & Wild. Having founded the company in 2013, with a view to make sending and receiving flowers easier and ‘more joyous’, he now employs nearly 50 people.

Judges commented that Aron showed commitment to client excellence, that he had an innovative concept, and that he continued to drive innovation through the value chain. He was also found to have excellent market awareness, with the culture of the business speaking through the brand.

Also, through to the October finals, in the Sustained Excellence category, are the entrepreneurial duo behind Gama Healthcare. Guy Braverman and Allan Hanouka specialise in the manufacture and distribution of revolutionary infection prevention and control products and the provision of aftercare support.

Guy and Allan were recognised for their proven track record in product development and impressive, consistent growth. Judges commented on their ‘of the moment’ offer.

Completing the London and South East finalists’ line-up is, Aaron Punwani, the CEO of Lane Clark & Peacock LLP, who has been recognised for his entrepreneurial spirit in the Transformational Leader category, having led the business, with a strong financial performance, over the last 15 years.

Lane Clark Peacock is a leading independent, owner-managed pension, investment and insurance consultancy operating in the UK and Ireland. Aaron was highlighted for his company’s social impact and investment in people, openly tackling topical matters, including Black Lives Matter and Diversity and Inclusivity, head on. He was also praised for his adaptability and diversifying the business into consulting areas.  

Chris Lowe, Debt Advisory Partner at EY and Entrepreneur Of The Year Partner Sponsor for London & South East, said: “It’s been great to see the level of diversity and creativity shown among this year’s London and South East winners. They are at the helm of some of the most inspirational, forward thinking, and vibrant businesses across the region, driving future growth strategies and contributing to the success of the local economy. The entrepreneurs representing London and the South East at the UK finals are spread across a number of different sectors, from consumer products to healthcare innovation. They have all already demonstrated their strong entrepreneurial flair and commitment to supporting their business and enabling their employees to succeed.   

“The last eighteen months have been a tough time for a lot of businesses. We’re delighted that Entrepreneur Of The Year offers inspiring business leaders the chance to showcase how they have been able to successfully pivot and adapt their businesses to a changing environment, and importantly, how they plan to transform their business moving forward, making the most of new opportunities. I wish them all the best of luck in the UK finals.”

Lynn Rattigan, EY’s Chief Operating Office for the UK & Ireland and EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ UK Partner Sponsor, said: “At EY we want to build trust in capital markets, advocating for inclusive capitalism and helping our clients navigate uncertainty and catch the next wave of economic growth by coming together as one firm to solve their most complex challenges.

“I am truly exhilarated by this year’s line-up of entrepreneurs – from all our regional finalists to the 26 advancing to the UK final, they demonstrate many reasons to be optimistic about the future of our business sector.”

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year’s headline sponsor is leading Swiss wealth management group Julius Baer.

David Durlacher, CEO, Julius Baer International Limited, the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ UK Headline Sponsor said: “On behalf of everyone at Julius Baer I would like to congratulate all those who have made it through as a finalist in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year programme.

“It has been a pleasure to meet many of the award entrants during the course of the programme, and the quality of individuals and their businesses has been outstanding. It is inspiring to see how these entrepreneurs and their businesses are opening up new markets, driving change and becoming recognised for their achievements. Congratulations to the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ UK Finalists for 2021!”

The overall UK Entrepreneur Of The Year winner will be announced at an event in November. They will represent the UK at the ‘EY World Entrepreneur of the Year’ ceremony in summer 2022 a forum which attracts the world’s most inspiring entrepreneurs from more than 60 countries.

A full list of UK Entrepreneur Of The Year finalists can be found here.