Wanted: female bosses to sell 'going it alone'

One thousand self-employed women will be recruited to help the government spread a ‘can-do’ attitude among enterprising females too timid to ‘go it alone.’

The plan to develop a national network of women-only business ambassadors was hatched yesterday by Margaret Hodge, the small business minister, at a conference in Brighton.

Speaking at the event, Ms Hodge said three quarters of a million more businesses could operate nationwide - but only if the UK matches the level of female start-up rates in the US.

The conference heard Regional Development Agencies across the UK will be used to recruit the female entrepreneurs, who will be deployed in the regions to inspire women to start-up.

The idea appears to be stem from research from the conference organisers Prowess, which found women gained most of their inspiration to start-up by a female entrepreneur they know.

The network will be available both on and offline, with each member expected to provide mentoring support, further to supporting a three-day residential business readiness course.

The focus of the network will analyse the key stages of women’s lives, including young women, women who have just had children and women whose children may now have left home.

The National Council of Graduate Entrepreneurs will launch a programme to complement the network, which will promote self-employment to females who have left university in the past 10 years.

Support will be on offer over a 12-month period, with the council helping former graduates turn their business ideas into reality.

Both schemes will be supported by the new Task Force for Women's Enterprise, set up in November to boost the quality and quantity of women's enterprise across the UK until 2010.

Taskforce founder, Margaret Hodge, yesterday said the UK “can't afford not to” set up a national network of women entrepreneurs.

“Successful women throughout the country can and must mentor and inspire many more women to think: 'yes I can do that' and take the confident plunge to start their own business,” she added.

"This will lead to a new women's movement that will push back gender barriers and give women the confidence and support they need to start a business.”

The Make Your Mark campaign said the ambassadors for women's enterprise will help generate more self-belief among women to start a business.

The enterprise lobbyist said the network would ideally “provide the culture change needed to boost the rates of entrepreneurship in the UK."

 

8th February 2007

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