Blackburn-born Mo Isap has been recognised with a national award for efforts to support women freelancers during the pandemic. The CEO of IN4 Group, based in Preston, established free accelerator programme FreelanceHER 100 for women in the digital, creative, media and technology sectors across the North West.

Mo was awarded the Inclusive Skills Excellence Award at last night’s (Thursday) WorldSkills UK’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Heroes Awards. The awards, in partnership with Coca-Cola Europacific Partners and NCFE, celebrate the individuals and organisations championing diversity and inclusion within the business and technical education sectors.

The aim of the programme was to give women in Lancashire and Greater Manchester access to the skills and confidence to pursue their ambitions. The project had a strong reach across the different sectors with 50% of participants coming from creative sectors, 27% from digital and 18% working in technology.

It also succeeded in attracting women from a host of different backgrounds and creating a diverse community. One quarter (25%) were from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, 13% registered disabled, 12% identified as LGBTQ+ and the ages ranged from 16-60.

The programme is designed to help women entrepreneurs create, innovate, learn and grow their businesses through workshops and peer to peer mentoring. Participants speak highly of its success with 97% believing it positively impacted their businesses and over 90% saying they could not have received better business support. Looking to build on the success of the pilot scheme, the next cohort of FreelanceHER 100 will launch on Tuesday (1 March).

Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann OBE, CEO of WorldSkills UK, said:

“This exciting new initiative has had a real impact on women in the North West. FreelanceHER 100 blazes a trail when it comes to finding out how to deal with a real issue that had been exacerbated by the pandemic. The stats also show an appreciation for diversity among leaders and we are excited that the project is going from strength to strength with the second cohort launching in March. Brilliant work from Mo – well done!”

Mo Isap said:

“This award is a huge honour and privilege as it recognises the work of our amazing team at IN4 Group, who designed and launched FreelanceHER 100, and successfully supported 104 women into tech, digital and creative freelance careers. WorldSkills UK is an exemplar organisation, doing such an incredible job, and winning this award will further enhance our mission to ensure that everyone has fair access to digital jobs and skills. Our ambition is to support 1000 women with achieving their entrepreneurial ambitions and growing new businesses.”

Also shortlisted for the Inclusive Skills Excellence Awardsponsored by FE Week, was the Supported Learning Department from New College Lanarkshire and Mike Butcher from Pembrokeshire College.

Applications for FreelanceHER 100 are now open, visit: www.freelanceher100.com/join

For more member news, click here.