A trio of awards for Ask the Chameleon

A trio of awards for Derby businesswoman whose hard work, compassion and dedication has supported hundreds of local firms during pandemic

DERBY businesswoman Rachel Hayward, who owns local bid writing consultancy, Ask the Chameleon, has been recognised for her support of hundreds of small businesses during the pandemic.

In less than a month, Rachel has scooped the East Midlands Chamber’s Enterprising Women Female Entrepreneur of the Year, clinched the Derbyshire Live Business Awards’ crown for Professional Services, and topped the poll in the Woman Who Achieves & Solopreneur Awards.

The award from the East Midlands Chamber recognises the extraordinary personal lengths Rachel went to, supporting a host of small and new businesses in the East Midlands, to survive and thrive during the pandemic, whilst all the while fighting to keep her own business afloat.

During the pandemic, like so many small firms, Rachel’s business all but shut down overnight, and she had to work hard to weather the storm. But Rachel was determined to turn adversity into an opportunity, and with the help of two Derby business partners, set up the Derby Swap Shop website offering local firms the chance to swap business services with each other, completely free of charge, to help them keep going.

Within days, dozens of companies were supporting each other with swaps, offering business advice for photography, products for testimonials, technical services for gardening help and many more.

The Swap Shop phenomenon grew daily to more than 500, and for many, it became the difference between survival and failure, as owners managed to keep their firms running.

Today, with almost 1000 businesses regularly saving time and money by exchanging products and services, UK Swap Shop is established as a strong resource for start-up across the country, and yet Rachel’s commitment to supporting fellow small businesses has seen her not take a single penny in fees or salary.

Rachel’s awards reflect her selfless and courageous efforts to support the local business community just when it needed it the most, but Rachel feels it has all been worthwhile.

She said: “I am a passionate advocate of the economic and social impact that entrepreneurs and small/micro businesses make to the economy. At the start of the pandemic, like everyone else, things were tough, and I experienced the awesome power of the business community in helping me survive. I just wanted to pay this support forward.

“I’m utterly bowled over by these awards but just hope that this recognition will help to highlight the vital role female entrepreneurs and small businesses play in our local and wider economy.”

The British Business Bank’s Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) sponsored the East Midlands Chamber’s Enterprising Women Award.

Lewis Stringer, Senior Manager at the Bank, said: “The quality and quantity of nominees in this category is testimony to the strength of the region’s female entrepreneurs and Rachel is such a very worthy winner! Her amazing personal resilience and selfless contribution to the wider business community over the last 18 months is inspiring.”

F Entrepreneur
It's pretty simple, an individual, business or charity from across the UK is looking for something. In return they will provide a swap offering services or goods in return.
Small Business Saturday
Federation of Small Businesses
East Midlands Chamber Member
Marketing Derby

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