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Ƶ Recognised as One of the Fastest Growing Female-Led Businesses

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Ƶ is delighted to have been recognised in the Independent/E2E Female 100 Track 2024 index as one of the UK’s fastest growing female led businesses over the last 3 years.

To us, this demonstrates the value of delivering on our core purpose - growing opportunity for our stakeholders – contract commissioners, international students and agents and UK citizens with a wide variety of support needs , from employment to training, mobility and travel  to mental well-being.

While recovery post-covid is part of the story (it killed the international business for a while but our support for UK Citizens went online to maintain support for them), by far the greater story has been about expanding our range of both offerings and stakeholders, whilst remaining true to that purpose.

This has been partly about increasing our portfolio of offerings and stakeholders new to us – but still a great fit to our strategy and purpose.

Our enterprise partnering with charities through 3SC introduced us to new public sector stakeholders Ministry of Justice and the Welsh government, but also new services in mental health and wellbeing, notably in supporting neurodiverse individuals.  That business has tripled its size in the last 18 months.

Our skills portfolio has also been dramatically increased by acquisition of E-training, an Apprenticeship provider, to add further opportunity pathways for (mainly) young people, complementing our Adult Education offerings like bootcamps, another business we were not in 3 years ago.  Our apprenticeship business has grown exponentially since the acquisition in 2022.

Organic growth has been partly fuelled by re-purposing an award-winning competence in work experience, hence employer engagement.  Brexit killed perhaps 90% of that business, originally based on experience for European students, but we now source higher value work experiences for Universities – a new stakeholder category -  who have international masters graduates (a nascent business with factorial growth opportunities).  Our University offer will further expand with a soon-to-be launched widely recognized International Foundation year through NCUK.

One key challenge at times of rapid growth in a services business is maintaining quality of delivery and contract performance.  In the last 12 months two of our businesses have achieved Ofsted “Good” inspection results and we are inspected/audited by numerous other bodies, illustrating our relentless focus on quality.

Despite having been in business for almost 30 years, our growth story can still be seen as approaching a growth inflection point, as one of our key challenges will also be perhaps our greatest opportunity – realising potential synergies; two examples in particular stand out.

The 700 businesses who have used our Neurodiversity support for employees have not yet been offered our apprenticeship and the thousands of people we help into work are mostly yet to feed into our Adult Education or apprenticeship pathways to a better future.

It’s very gratifying to be noted as one of the fastest-growing female-led businesses in 2024.  As a services business, none of this could have been achieved without our very diverse workforce.  One last note.  We’ve always had female leadership and our growth particularly in the last 3 years is all about the quality of our people, not their gender.