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Observer Ethical awards Winners 2011

YouGen press release

YouGen wins Green Business of the Year in Venus Awards Devon

Posted on 6 September 2013 at 4:53 pm

YouGen was award Green Business of the Year in last night's awards for women in business. Founder Cathy Debenham also reached the finals of the Inspirational Woman category of the Venus Awards Devon. 

Cathy started the Sidbury based busines in 2008, having noticed that it was difficult to get the practical information she needed to assess whether renewable energy was suitable for her house.  Since then, the website has had nearly a million visits, and 2.5m page views.

“It was a great honour to win the award,” says Cathy, "especially as we were in the finals with two other excellent businesses, that also have green values running right through them: the Green Funeral Company and Surplus WEEE.

"While I got to go on stage and pick up the award, it's also testament to my great team of colleagues. There are four of us, all women, all working part time from our own homes, yet we manage to give the service you'd expect from a much larger organisation.

"When you're working in an under-resourced small business you sometimes forget to look up and notice how much you've achieved. Winning the Green Business of the Year is a great opportunity for us to do just that, and celebrate our successes."

Cathy faced a number of challenges in setting up YouGen: She came to the project with solid journalism, PR and marketing skills, but faced a steep learning curve: she needed to learn about renewable energy; government incentive schemes (which constantly change); how to run a business; and the rapidly evolving ways of communicating and doing business online. She found that traditional business advisors weren’t much help with the latter and has learnt by seeking out information online and by trial and error.

YouGen is now a trusted brand in a new, fast growing industry. She is regularly invited to speak at events such as the Westminster Forum (for senior politicians and policy makers) and the annual solar power roadshow, and sits on some government industry working groups. Her twitter account (@yougenuk) has more than 6,000 followers.

For more information or to interview Cathy Debenham email: or phone: 0845 450 9418

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