The Women’s Enterprise Task Force’s (WETF) final report, Greater Return On Women’s Enterprise (GROWE), is published today – Women’s Enterprise Day – with the majority of its recommendations already underway.
The report recommends targeted ways of supporting female entrepreneurs to increase the contribution made by women-led SMEs to the UK economy – turnover from women-led SMEs is currently an estimated £130bn.
The GROWE report is welcomed by Lord Davies of Abersoch, Minister for Trade, Investment and Small Business and Maria Eagle MP, Minister of State at the Government Equalities Office and Ministry of Justice, who will both speak at the launch event tonight, which is being hosted by Microsoft and marks the end of the three year remit of the WETF. The Government response was published on 4 November.
Lord Davies said: “Supporting female entrepreneurs across the country to start up and succeed in business is key to the UK maintaining its status as a world leading economy. The Women’s Enterprise Task Force has contributed to shaping some key recommendations which we will be taking forward.”
One of the WETF’s recommendations calls for the establishment of a private sector-led Women’s Enterprise Forum that has the sole aim of forging action for increasing a market of higher-growth women’s businesses. Microsoft is proud to be one of the hosts of these quarterly forums and supports the goals of the Women’s Enterprise Forum in 2010.
Maria Eagle, Deputy Minister for Women and Equalities, said: “It is more important than ever that women have the skills and confidence they need to develop and grow a business. This is not just an issue of equality but one of economics – women-run businesses contribute billions to the economy each year. I welcome the recommendations made by the Task Force and plans to create an industry-led Women’s Enterprise Forum as well as Champions in each of the regions, which will advise Ministers and nurture and support female business when and where it matters.”
Pam Alexander, SEEDA Chief Executive and co-Chair of WETF, said: “Female entrepreneurs make a valuable contribution to our economy but there is huge potential for growth which is not being tapped. If there was the same level of women’s enterprise in the UK as in the US, there would be around 900,000 more women-led SMEs contributing an estimated £25bn more to the economy. GROWE sets out how private and public organisations working together can help the UK move towards achieving these levels of entrepreneurialism.
“We are also announcing the creation of the Women’s Enterprise Research Centre today, led by the Women’s Business Development Agency working with the University of Birmingham. Following a tried and tested model used in the US, the Centre will be a hub of learning and new research to inform policies to support high growth, women-owned businesses.”
Dr Glenda Stone, Chief Executive of Aurora and co-Chair of WETF, said: “Following the successful outputs achieved by the Task Force, a single economic challenge that still remains for Britain is to increase the number of women starting, growing and exiting higher growth businesses, then re-investing their wealth into further enterprise ventures. If Britain can actively accelerate this entrepreneurial cycle, then women’s enterprise will generate more employment, attract more investment and drive even greater value into the economy.
“There are three elements the Task Force considered particularly relevant to this mission: the £25m Aspire Co-investment Fund; establishment of the private sector-led Women’s Enterprise Forum with membership of high-growth women entrepreneurs nominated by the key business member organisations; and the Women’s Finance Forum being held in spring 2010 by British Business Angels Association.”
The WETF GROWE recommendations are outlined below:
Pillar One: Better Analysis, Better Understanding
To address the current gaps in our knowledge:
1. Companies House and HMRC to add tick-boxes to VAT Return and Annual Returns forms to capture disaggregated women-owned and ethnic minority-owned company data.
2. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to use the Gender Equality Duty to enforce the gender disaggregation of all publicly-funded businesses and enterprise data and research.
3. A public-private partnership to come together to establish a women’s enterprise research centre that will coordinate and disseminate learning.
Pillar Two: Enabling More Women To Join The Enterprise Economy
To encourage more women to start and grow businesses:
4. Business Link to further raise the level of participation of women-owned businesses and engage more female customers, and UK Trade & Investment to encourage more women to trade overseas by raising awareness amongst women of the opportunities on offer and the support available.
5. Enterprise UK to build the capacity of the Women’s Enterprise Ambassadors and enhance female online communities.
6. At least one Advisor in each JobCentre Plus to be trained to promote self-employment to women as a route off benefits.
Pillar Three: Driving High Growth
To improve the environment for growth finance:
7. BIS to set up an accreditation standard for expert investment intermediaries to bridge women entrepreneurs to sources of growth finance.
8. Government’s Enterprise Finance Guarantee and its new £1 billion Innovation Investment Fund to contain a commitment to diversity, including collecting gender-disaggregated data.
9. The Aspire women’s co-investment Fund to be privately managed through independent tender, assessed for impact and reinforced.
10. BIS to encourage more high net worth women to become business angels and, with Business Link, to raise awareness of the benefits for small businesses of accessing business angel investment.
Pillar Four: Business Readiness For Public Procurement
To open up access to public contracts:
11. Fully implement the Glover recommendations.
12. CompeteFor (the procurement portal developed by RDAs for 2012) to be used as a model for the new single access portal for public sector procurement.
13. Link business support to finance and procurement opportunities.
Pillar Five: Keeping Up The Momentum
To maintain the currently high profile for this area and provide a focal point for action:
14. Business membership organisations to work together to establish a UK panel of women entrepreneurs to identify ways to deliver growth. Government to use this forum as a valuable source of business and enterprise expertise.
15. Women’s Enterprise to retain membership of the Small Business Forum and Finance Forum.