A BUSINESSWOMAN who kept her company afloat during the Covid crisis while caring for a new baby has been highlighted as a success story in a national report.

Fareham-based Charisse Smith has been featured in Resilience and Recovery, published by the Entrepreneurs Network in partnership with Barclays.

The report revealed that female-founded, equity-backed businesses have been worse affected by Covid-19 than their male-run counterparts. It also highlighted examples of resilience during the crisis.

Ms Smith is founder and managing director of CMe Media, which buys advertising for clients in media and outdoor sites, and she was a new mother when the Covid crisis began.

Her company’s revenue took a big hit when the lockdown which made advertising space on public transport and high streets less valuable.

She responded by arranging new payment plans with clients, setting up co-owned satellite branches and applying for £100,000 from the government-backed coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBils) from Barclays.

She said: “As Covid-19 restrictions were announced, I immediately focussed on understanding the level of exposure facing CMe Media and how I could best support our clients, suppliers and staff throughout this period.

“I quickly pivoted the business to identify ways I could bolster our cashflow in the short to mid-term; this included arranging new payment plans with clients, enacting our break clause on our commercial lease and furloughing staff to ensure we could keep them in employment throughout this period.

“As a female founder, I also had to navigate the carefully balanced tightrope of keeping my business afloat throughout the pandemic, supporting my amazing staff and dealing with the additional pressure of being a new mum again,” she added.

“Working night and day from my dining table with my baby next to me, I immediately turned to my Barclays relationship manager for additional support through the government’s CBils, and as a high growth business, we agreed on a £100,000 loan to bolster our immediate cashflow concerns and support our growth ambitions in the long-term.

“This loan has been a significant for our business, allowing us to look to the future with confidence and see us through a particularly challenging period.”

Barclays has pledged to help 100,000 women start up and run their businesses over the next three years. It will be offering local events and mentoring via its network of Eagle Labs – one of which is at the Marlands Shopping Centre in Southampton -- and Rise hubs.

Aria Babu, the author of Resilience and Recovery, said: “If we want a complete recovery from this recession, we need to see as many entrepreneurs as possible innovate and create new jobs. This means we cannot afford to keep barriers which prevent female entrepreneurs from realising their full talents.”