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Tuesday, 15 November 2005

Celebrating women’s enterprise

THE first ever Women’s Enterprise Day takes place tomorrow (Wednesday) aimed at inspiring young women to become successful entrepreneurs.

Held as part of the Enterprise Week celebrations, women’s organisations from all over the UK will be running events and activities to profile successful female entrepreneurs and to inspire young women with the confidence and know-how to do the same.

Women make up 52 per cent of the UK population and 46 per cent of those active in the labour market. But women account for just 26 per cent of those self-employed in the UK. Only 15 per cent of UK businesses are majority owned by women compared to 30 per cent of US businesses – that’s twice our number. If the UK had the same rate of female owned start-up businesses as in the US, we would have 750,000 more businesses here in the UK, while female entrepreneurial activity in the UK is half that of males.

Positive signs are starting to emerge around the development of women’s enterprise. There has been a big change in female attitudes to enterprise – the number of women who feel they have the skills to start a business has increased by a quarter in the last two years.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor reports that female entrepreneurship levels have grown by 20 per cent between 2002 and 2004. Some 900,000 more women have become self-employed in the last four years, while some regions have more doubled their female entrepreneurship rates in the past two years – including the East of England, the North East, North West, South West and Scotland.

Whilst the economic case for developing women’s enterprise is clear, it’s recognised that more needs to be done. The variety of activities taking place locally, regionally and nationally during Enterprise Week and Women’s Enterprise Day will provide a focus to inspire and help young women improve their potential, take control of their lives and boost female enterprise.

It is important to sow the seeds of enterprise and entrepreneurship at an early age. For example, the Women’s Business Development Agency (WBDA) in Coventry has developed “Sim Chemist”, a computer based business simulation game aimed at schoolgirls.

“Sim Chemist” forms part of the WBDA’s Enterprise Education package - which encourages schools to take advantage of this innovative and unique package as part of the Government’s drive to ensure all schools across the UK include five days of enterprise education into the curriculum.

Ministers will be busy during Enterprise Week. Deputy Women and Equality Minister Meg Munn has a full schedule of engagements during Women’s Enterprise Day, which will include being the key-note speaker at the National everywoman and Let’s Talk Business conferences.

Visit for more information on these conferences and on the full range of activities taking place on Women’s Enterprise Day.

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