Budding female entrepreneurs are set to benefit from superfast broadband with a new £1m challenge fund, enabling them to work effectively, access new markets and grow their business online.
Women-led businesses now represent 20% of all SMEs in the UK, up from 12% in 2010 and the Government is determined to do more to help ensure women take advantage of the best broadband infrastructure in Europe.
Visiting Google’s Campus for Mums in Shoreditch, Minister for Women Nicky Morgan said: “There are thousands of women running some amazing small businesses all over the UK but they still make up just a fifth of all small businesses.
“As part of our long-term economic plan for Britain we are determined to do everything we can to support women to start-up businesses and create more jobs and opportunities for hardworking people.
“This fund will give women the practical help needed to get their businesses on-line and take advantage of superfast broadband. This will include online mentors, business clubs and training courses so that women all over the country can benefit from the kind of help Campus for Mums is giving.”
The fund will be part of the Government’s Superfast Broadband rollout and will help women take full advantage of all the opportunities superfast broadband can bring to business.
There are 40 local broadband projects in England, already delivering the programme and they will be invited to submit bids to the £1m challenge fund in May 2014.
Business leaders and women entrepreneurs last week met Nicky Morgan at an event she hosted and asked for better online services. As part of the Government’s commitment to small businesses, Small Business: GREAT Ambition, sets out how it is making it easier for new and existing businesses to get access to the advice and support they need to succeed. Women starting or running a business can find out how other people have accessed support and help through the Business is GREAT website, and we want to hear from small businesses about whether the site works for them or what improvements they would like to see.
Female entrepreneurs can also take advantage of a 50% contribution of up to £2k from the Growth Voucher programme to pay for help with accounting or marketing advice. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will be working closely with women’s enterprise groups including: Everywoman, Prowess, and Mumpreneurs, to ensure that female entrepreneurs are aware of and encouraged to apply for the money.
This forms part of help the Government is already providing to female entrepreneurs, which includes:
- £1.6 million to support women’s enterprise in rural areas;
- access to over 15,000 free business mentors
- the introduction of Tax Free Childcare will mean that, for the first time, many self-employed parents will have access to support with childcare costs.
Following last week’s launch by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of a new campaign to boost the number of women in science, technology and engineering, the Government today welcomed the progress highlighted in a report from the UK Manufacturing organisation EEF, which shows that women now account for 21 per cent of directorships in FTSE 100 manufacturing companies.
Business, Women and Equalities Minister Jenny Willott said: “What these figures show is that we are starting to see a culture change at the heart of British manufacturing with more women now sitting at the top table. It also demonstrates that businesses are now embracing the benefits that a better balanced workforce can bring.
“However, there’s still a long way to go and we need to make sure this momentum is maintained. That is why we are working with schools, colleges and businesses across the country to increase the uptake of STEM subjects by girls. This will allow us to bury the unglamorous reputation a career in manufacturing has received once and for all.”