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Women Entrepreneurs

Volume 481: debated on Tuesday 21 October 2008

9. To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what plans she has to increase the number of women entrepreneurs. (228323)

We published our Enterprise Strategy in March this year. It sets out the Government's plans to encourage women to start-up and grow their own businesses, including:

Setting up a fund providing equity for women led businesses;

Piloting Women's Business Centres;

Supporting a national mentoring network for women in business;

Supporting the establishment of a women's enterprise centre of expertise;

Running a media campaign to raise awareness of enterprise among women.

The Government Equalities Office is working closely with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to support the delivery of these measures.

Women are the largest under represented group in terms of participation in enterprise and offer a wealth of untapped talent and economic opportunity.

Measures to assist women's enterprise are an important part of the Government's Enterprise Strategy, including piloting Women's Business Centres, creating a fund to invest in women-led businesses, and supporting the establishment of a Women's Business Centre of Expertise.

The Enterprise Strategy, published in March this year, recognises the importance of changing women's attitudes to enterprise; providing advice and support to women starting and running their businesses; and helping women entrepreneurs to achieve growth in their businesses.

The Government Equalities Office is, jointly with BERR, supporting research into the barriers faced by mothers thinking about setting up their own business. This research will feed in to the development of Women's Business Centre pilots.

The Government published a Strategic Framework for Women's Enterprise in 2003. This set out for the first time the policy imperative for the development of women's enterprise.

The Government established the Task Force on Women's Enterprise to accelerate the levels of female entrepreneurship. It is also supporting the national network of 1,000 women entrepreneur ambassadors established with RDAs.