Nominated for her services to entrepreneurs and UK business, SFEDI Group Chair Ruth Lowbridge has been awarded the MBE in the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours List. Ruth was put forward by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Ruth is currently Executive Chair of the SFEDI Group of Companies, all of which promote and support enterprise and entrepreneurial skills development throughout the UK. As a business owner herself for over 20 years, with successful ventures including a bistro, conference centre, software company and training consultancy, Ruth knows more than most how it feels to start up and run an enterprise. Ruth has always had a strong determination to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Prior to setting up in business on her own she chose to dedicate her working life to working within disadvantaged communities, including training young people (as part of the Youth Training Scheme in the 1980s) in locally deprived areas and working with pre-release prisoners.
The experiences of her early career confirmed her commitment to enterprise skills and helping to develop those who need it most, a passion for which has continued as her influence has grown. Through her entrepreneurial approach she has gone from working at a local, to a regional and then national level to ensure that enterprising skills are recognised, developed and promoted to all. Indeed, the current enterprise skills landscape would not look the way it does without her contribution.
Throughout the course of her working life, Ruth has benefitted from the support of mentors in both her personal and professional life, including an entrepreneurial mother who acted as a role model for her. Even before she set up her own business she was encouraged by two mentors who each shared their own business experiences to help her gain the confidence to step out on her own. Their support led Ruth to become a mentor herself, keen to share both the good and bad experiences she has had along the way in order to help and inspire others. For over fifteen years she has voluntarily mentored almost continuously, either informally or by way of mentoring organisations, firstly through the Prince’s Trust and now through the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs (the very mentoring programme she was instrumental in establishing).
Ruth says: “There are many working in the field of enterprise development so to have been nominated for an MBE is a great honour. It still hasn't sunk in yet! I have always loved working with entrepreneurs and small businesses. I believe that they play a lead role in developing our economy and consider myself very fortunate to have been able to be involved in enterprise throughout my working life. It is one of my great passions. It really does make a difference - as I hope, in a small way, I have been able to do.”
Chief Executive of the IOEE, Sarah Trouten said: “The MBE is awarded for a significant achievement or outstanding service to the community and also for hands-on service which stands out as an example to other people. Ruth Lowbridge exemplifies both of these. We are delighted that her dedication to, knowledge of and enormous contribution to enterprise has been recognised nationally. Her MBE is thoroughly deserved and we heartily congratulate her.”
The full list of honours recipients can be viewed here.