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Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan

INTRODUCTION Increasing enterprise activity across the region is critical to the future of the Northwest economy. Despite its strong economic performance in recent years, the region has fewer owner-managed businesses than other parts of the country, and encouraging more women to consider starting a business, or to grow an existing enterprise, will play a vital role in improving both its competitiveness and its ability to create more cohesive communities and increased local wealth. In common with other parts of the UK, men are still more than twice as likely as women to start a business - but we know that this isn’t because women aren’t interested in enterprise. On the contrary, it is estimated that more than 160,000 women1 in the Northwest have thought about starting a business, but haven’t yet done anything about it.

The Women’s Enterprise Action Plan will help local and regional partners to work together to encourage those women to take the first steps towards business ownership, and, to provide assistance to women already running enterprises and who have the capacity and desire for their businesses to grow and expand, sharing their knowledge and experience along the way. The plan will provide coordination and leadership across regional business, enterprise and economic development activities to ensure that female-led enterprise is promoted and effectively integrated within key activities such as business support, enterprise education and skills development. It will encourage effective partnership working across the public, private and voluntary sectors, including the regional women’s business networks and associations.

The Action Plan is designed to follow on from the Northwest Enterprise Strategy, published in June 2008, and from a national perspective, it coincides with the roll-out of the government’s strategy, ‘Enterprise; unlocking the UK’s 1

Household Survey of Entrepreneurship 2005, BERR


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

talent’, which identifies women’s enterprise as one of the key priorities in developing a more enterprising culture and increasing the number of new businesses across the regions. This Plan incorporates the national strategy’s key actions for women’s enterprise development. The release of this Action Plan2 puts the Northwest at the forefront of UK women’s enterprise development, and the NWDA and its partners are committed to ensuring that women across the region can access the support and encouragement they need for business success.


1. Why do we need a Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan? ...1 2. Who is the action plan for? .................................................................4 3. What are the women’s enterprise priorities in the Northwest? ……9 4. What do we want to happen? ..…………………………………………15 5. How will we make the action plan work? .........................................22 6. How will we know it’s been successful? ..........................................22

Appendices: i.

Regional data/statistics


Key partners and stakeholders


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Forum


Women’s Enterprise Task Force


Regional Enterprise Strategy - Key Performance Indicators


This document was produced by Prowess and authored by Jackie Brierton


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

1. Why do we need a Northwest women’s enterprise action plan? 1.1 Encouraging more enterprise activity is essential for the future economic growth of the Northwest region. This isn’t just about starting and growing more businesses, but encouraging people and organisations










entrepreneurial way. It’s particularly important to encourage women to consider enterprise and business ownership as they are currently much less likely than men to be involved in entrepreneurial activity.3 This isn’t because they are less entrepreneurial or less able to run a successful business – but because of a complex set of issues which often prevent women from taking the first steps. These can include: accessing and acquiring finance; balancing caring and family responsibilities; and, building and maintaining self-belief and confidence. Although these are also issues for men, evidence shows that they often affect women in a different way and can become barriers to setting up and growing a business. Hence the need to develop specific strategies to encourage and assist women’s enterprise development. It is also important to recognise the connection between the development of women’s enterprise and the resultant opportunities which arise for increased employment and higher skills levels in general, either through improved access to the labour market via women-owned businesses, through improved routes to self-employment or through the influence on the unemployed of inspiring role models.

1.2 The regional enterprise statistics show that women are still substantially under-represented within business ownership. Only 12% of businesses in the Northwest are majority-owned by women with the UK average 14%. Of working age women in the region, 4.2% are self-employed (which represents around 27% of total self-employed). However, regional comparisons show the Northwest to have the third


Early male entrepreneurial activity is more than twice that of female activity (7.32 and 3.42 respectively): GEM 2007


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

highest level of female business starts behind London and the South East.4

1.3 The importance of engaging more women in enterprise was highlighted by the Government in its recently published enterprise strategy, 'Enterprise; unlocking the UK’s talent’. 5 ‘Women represent half the UK’s population, but are the largest under-represented group in the UK in terms of participation in enterprise and offer a wealth of untapped talent and economic opportunity.’ To address this issue, the Government announced a number of initiatives to specifically target women, including piloting women’s business centres, mentoring provision and a new capital fund for women-led enterprises. In addition, a national centre for policy and research on women’s enterprise will be developed by Prowess. (See section 4 for more details on the national Enterprise Strategy activities.)

1.4 Developing a formal action plan for women’s enterprise in the Northwest isn’t about starting from a zero-base. It builds on valuable work carried out across the region by committed individuals and organisations for many years, which has resulted in a twofold increase in female self-employment and women’s business ownership.6 There is also a high level of expertise and knowledge of women’s enterprise issues within the region and, with the publication of the Northwest Enterprise Strategy, along with the new national Enterprise Strategy, the time is right for highlighting the critical role women’s enterprise will play in closing the productivity gap which exists in comparison to other UK regions. Women’s entrepreneurship is relevant to a number of strategic issues and to a range of regional stakeholders, and this plan aims to provide a coordinated approach for this activity to complement and assist implementation of key regional and sub-regional strategic priorities . 4

State of Women’s Enterprise in the UK, 2007 (Prowess) Available at BERR website: 6 Although starting from a low base, female Total Entrepreneurial Activity in the Northwest has increased more than other English regions between 2002 and 2007 (GEM 2007 Report) 5


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

1.5 The most important reason for developing a women’s enterprise action plan is to ensure that women across the region are encouraged and inspired to think of starting or growing a business, and to access the support and assistance which is available to them. It also aims to encourage existing women entrepreneurs to become involved in the development and promotion of women’s enterprise activity themselves, particularly through the Women’s Enterprise Ambassadors Campaign.7

1.6 We also need an action plan to ensure that there is a mechanism for influencing local, regional and national policy-making and to ensure women’s enterprise doesn’t develop in a strategic vacuum (i.e. not properly integrated with mainstream economic and business development). In policy terms, women’s entrepreneurship in the UK has developed over the last decade from being primarily an equality and social justice issue. It is now clearly also a mainstream economic and productivity issue with arguably the potential to change the face of enterprise across the country. The language and approach of this action plan therefore is upbeat and assertive and is careful to avoid the idea that women are a ‘disadvantaged group’ in need of special help. Instead, we approach this from the perspective that women’s potential in enterprise is not being realised for the good of the region and that we need to work with a wide range of organisations and agencies to ensure that women are not being unintentionally disadvantaged when seeking business start-up or growth assistance, and that the positive differences they bring in terms of ideas, creativity and ethos are valued for the economic and social benefits they can generate.


Information on the Northwest Women’s Ambassador Campaign is available at:


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

1.7 Finally, we need an action plan to ensure that the full diversity of women’s enterprise is championed and developed. Women from minority ethnic communities and backgrounds across the region are among some of the most entrepreneurial groups, but are also often the least likely to seek formal business support and advice. There are also many innovative female-led social enterprises which would benefit from support and inclusion in enterprise networks. Older women (50+) and disabled women are under-represented in enterprise and, along with women in non-traditional business sectors, for example in engineering, science, construction and technology (SECT), provide a potentially valuable source of new ideas and business potential. This plan aims to provide an inclusive but dynamic approach to ensure that women anywhere, whether rural or urbanbased, and in whatever sector across the region can feel confident that they will get the right kind of support and assistance at whatever stage they require it.

2. Who is the action plan for? 2.1 The women’s enterprise action plan is aimed at anyone in the Northwest region with an interest in enterprise development, but particularly those organisations and agencies, in the public, private and third sectors, which provide enterprise/business support or which develop enterprise policies and programmes and need to ensure that women are effectively targeted and reached. In addition, organisations and agencies tasked with the development of areas such as education, skills, training and regeneration will find many cross-cutting issues and areas for action which will assist in achieving their objectives.

2.2 The plan is also aimed at women entrepreneurs, and potential entrepreneurs, to provide information and inspiration, and confidence that their support needs will be taken seriously and their efforts valued as part of the region’s economic and business development. It is particularly targeted at women who are not currently economically 4

Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

active and who may be based in the less advantaged parts of the region - but who, with the right kind of support and advice, can create new enterprises and new lives for themselves and their families.

2.3 One of the challenges in creating a useful plan for a range of audiences is the avoidance of unnecessary jargon, and the use of language and terms which are understood by everyone and not just by policy makers or academics. We have therefore tried not to use unnecessary terminology, but unfortunately cannot avoid using the many acronyms (or abbreviations) which exist, particularly across the public and education sectors. A guide to some of the key partner organisations is contained in Appendix ii.

2.4 Key Region-Wide Partnerships and Organisations

Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) The NWDA leads the economic development and regeneration of the Northwest region. Its major responsibility is to ‘help create an environment in which businesses in the region can flourish through offering business support, encouraging new start-ups, matching skills provision to employer needs and bringing business investment into the region.’ It supports and champions women’s enterprise development as part of the Northwest Enterprise Strategy8 and through various actions highlighted in the 2006 Regional Economic Strategy9 and it is committed to ensuring that the women’s enterprise action plan is implemented over the next three years. Key stakeholder groups supported by the NWDA, with a cross-cutting interest in women’s enterprise, include:




Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

Northwest Enterprise Forum (NWEF) Established by the NWDA in 2007 to develop, challenge and monitor the success of enterprise activity across the region, the NWEF provides strategic advice to the Agency, Business Link Northwest and other regional partners. Its members are drawn from a number of business representative organisations in the region and include the Northwest Women’s Enterprise Forum (NWWEF) – see below.10 The members of the NWEF will support the delivery of the women’s enterprise action plan and this will, in turn, assist the Forum to achieve its enterprise objectives in the Northwest. The NWEF is supported by a stakeholder sub-group comprising public sector agencies, sub-regional partners and other relevant organisations.. The stakeholder group will ensure actions emanating from the NWEF are coordinated and embedded at sub-regional and local levels.

Northwest Women’s Enterprise Forum (NWWEF) Established and supported by the NWDA to increase the number of women starting up and growing their own businesses in the region, the Northwest Women's Enterprise Forum aims to create an environment in which enterprising women have the skills, confidence, support and opportunities to make an equal contribution to economic prosperity. The Forum is responsible for the implementation and monitoring of the Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan.

Ethnic Minority Business Forum Northwest (EMBF NW) The EMBF NW is supported by the NWDA as the key policy advisory and strategic body responsible for the development of sustainable Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) business in the region. Its members are drawn from the BME business community and individuals with expertise from the public and voluntary sectors.11 Developing successful women-led BME enterprises is a key objective of the 10



Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

women’s enterprise action plan and collaboration and co-working with the EMBF NW will be important. Other key region-wide organisations and partnerships include:

Business Link Northwest (BLNW) BLNW provides a business support service to individuals and businesses across the region.12 This is provided through its Universal and Targeted teams which refer clients to the most appropriate support organisations, including some which are particularly womenfocused, listed on the BLNW supplier/products database. BLNW and its brokers are critical to the success of the women’s enterprise action plan, and the development of quality standards for individual brokers and gender-awareness training for business advisers are key actions within the plan.

Northwest Universities Association (NWUA) NWUA is the representative body of the fifteen Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the Northwest of England. It provides a means for the Northwest HEIs to identify and exploit opportunities for collaborative action to enhance and maximise the HE sector’s contribution to the social, economic and cultural life of the region. This often involves facilitating joint activities across the region’s HEIs and, where appropriate, working in partnership with other regional stakeholders, including business, industry and public bodies.

NWUA, through its membership of the Regional Economic Strategy (RES) Advisory Group, is committed to working with regional partners to address the GVA gap; within this context NWUA has lead responsibility for a number of RES actions including those focused on enhancing HE-business collaboration and knowledge transfer, and developing enterprise skills in students and graduates. 12 and


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

Regional Skills and Employment Board (RSEB) A key recommendation of the Leitch review December 2006 was the establishment of Regional Skills and Employment Boards, which replace the old arrangement of Regional Skills Partnerships. Their role will be to integrate employment and skills provision and to engage with employers, articulate labour market needs, scrutinise local services and recommend improvements in integrating labour market and training support. UK Trade & Investment (UKTI13) UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) provides business opportunities, expert trade advice and support to UK enterprises wishing to grow their business overseas. Internationalisation is a key business growth strategy and promoting Northwest UKTI services to women-owned businesses in the region will form part of the business support action plan.

Sub-Regional Partners (SRPs) There are 5 sub-regional partners which were established as strategic bodies to help liaise with Local Authorities and other key partners in their sub-region and to streamline communications and address issues which span beyond local boundaries. The subregional partners will play a key role in helping to coordinate the women’s enterprise action plan across the region and influence local partners on the women’s enterprise agenda.

13 west&_nfls=false


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

Cross-cutting Regional Strategies There are a number of additional regional and sub-regional strategies, policies and funding programmes which the women’s enterprise action plan will influence and assist with implementation, including: •

Northwest Regional Equality and Diversity Strategy and Implementation Plan 2006 - 200914

Rural Development Programme for England (managed by in the Northwest by the NWDA)

NW Competitiveness Operational Programme 2007-13 (ERDF - managed by in the Northwest by the NWDA)

Innovation Strategy

Multi Area Agreements

Local Area Agreements

City Region Strategies.

Five Sub-regional strategies and action plans

3. What are the women’s enterprise priorities in the Northwest? 3.1 The women’s enterprise priorities identified below are based on both the region’s strategic objectives and the national Enterprise Strategy actions. The Enterprise Strategy (Enterprise: unlocking the UK’s talent,) published in March 2008, highlighted the importance of increasing levels of women’s entrepreneurship in the UK. To achieve this, it announced a range of measures, including: Women’s Investment Fund: The Government plans to invest £12.5 million in a co-investment fund, with the aim of match-funding up to a total of £25million of investment. The fund will focus primarily on investing in women-led businesses, and will provide increased networking support to other sources of finance. The fund will be available in 2009 and, in the Northwest, access to the new funding will be coordinated through the NWDA. 14 Diversi.pdf


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

Assisting Women to Finance their Businesses: The Government, in partnership with the British Bankers Association, RDAs and others will implement a programme of activities to assist women to understand the finance options available and how they can access them. The Northwest programme will be implemented as part of the Action Plan.

Women’s Business Centre (WBC) Pilots and Use of Children’s Centres: The Government will work with RDAs to pilot the principles of the US Women’s Business Centre model, and the Northwest is one of four initial regional pilots. Women will be signposted to easy-to-access advice and support to build their confidence, skills and knowledge. Making enterprise information and advice available in a family-friendly environment through Children’s Centres will also be piloted.

More Mentoring Support: The Government will work with partners including RBS, Prowess, Everywoman and the British Chambers of Commerce to champion a national mentoring network for women in business. This will provide coordination and promotion of existing mentoring schemes and NWDA are leading on this work across the region.

Women’s Enterprise Centre of Expertise: The Government is supporting the establishment of a national Women’s Enterprise Policy and Research Centre. Its aims are to assist in building the economic case for women’s enterprise and to enhance policy development at regional and national levels. Co-located in Birmingham and London, it will work closely with the Northwest region, showcasing best practice and assisting in the monitoring and evaluation of women’s enterprise activity and data collection.

Media Campaign: The Government will run a national media campaign co-ordinated by Enterprise Insight. The campaign will specifically look to develop the awareness and potential of women who are currently under-represented in


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

enterprise. The NWDA is one of the lead RDAs working closely with

BERR and Enterprise Insight to develop the campaign. WEConnect : The Government is supporting work being undertaken by WEConnect15 to ensure that women-owned businesses can access corporate and public sector procurement opportunities. Corporate members of WEConnect include Accenture, Cisco, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Merill Lynch and Pfizer. Increasing the number of women-owned businesses in the Northwest benefiting from WEConnect is part of this Action Plan.

3.2 With these national initiatives in mind, the aims of the Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan are:

3.2.1 To increase awareness of enterprise, including social enterprise, among women region-wide (with a particular focus on unemployed or economically inactive women) by: •

devising a regional marketing approach, in conjunction with the national campaign run by Enterprise Insight

developing the regional Women’s Enterprise Ambassador Programme

promoting women’s enterprise through the media using role models and case studies.

Influencing Business Link NW to further develop a regional web-based information and signposting resource

3.2.2 To create an environment where women-led businesses are able to develop and grow, with the right kind of quality support available at the right time, by: •

increasing the number of business support providers and networks achieving and maintaining Prowess Flagship status



Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

developing a pilot regional Women’s Business Centre

effectively promoting the business support offering for women through Business Link and the mainstream enterprise support network (to include women-focussed options where appropriate)

coordinating affordable access to women-focused mentoring and coaching services

forming a strategic alliance of banks and regional finance providers with an action plan to address access to finance issues for women starting and growing businesses

3.2.3 To increase understanding plus the creation of a positive attitude towards women’s enterprise engaging key regional agencies and organisations, including local government, private and voluntary sectors by: •

working with and influencing key stakeholders (e.g. Regional Intelligence Unit (RIU), Office of National Statistics (ONS) ) to provide an evidence base for women’s enterprise, working with existing literature and the available data to develop an understanding of the issues surrounding disaggregated data.

influencing strategic alliances across key sectors, e.g. further and higher education; skills agenda; sub-regional partnerships; Third Sector organisations; social enterprise bodies; minority ethnic networks.

encouraging private sector business organisations (i.e. Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Institute of Directors (IOD), Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Chambers of Commerce etc) to promote female entrepreneurship through their networks, events and publications

3.2.4 To create a culture of enterprise for girls and women of all ages in partnership with education and the business sector by:


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

working with schools, FE and HE institutions to genderproof enterprise skills modules and encourage girls and young women to become involved in enterprise activity

facilitating the links between women entrepreneurs and education providers to provide a network of role models and a resource to facilitate the development and delivery of provision

running female-only enterprise awareness courses in schools, colleges and universities – and encourage women of all ages to participate

sharing best practice with the regional and sub-regional enterprise partners, and where appropriate, with other regions.

3.2.5 Ultimately, to increase the number of sustainable women-led businesses operating in the region with a proportionate impact on regional GDP16 and GVA17 by: •

establishing baseline data and targets for female entrepreneurial activity in the region

improving gender-disaggregated economic data in order to measure progress

3.3 To fulfil the aims and key objectives of this plan, a number of priority areas have been identified. Some of these, such as improved business support and access to finance, were identified as priorities in the government’s first strategic framework for women’s enterprise published in 2003.18 Others such as procurement and the innovation agenda have been added, with the recognition that a real ‘step change’ is needed to ensure that women-led businesses have the opportunities and resources to develop and grow. 16

GDP or Gross Domestic Product is a measure of the total final value of goods and services produced in a national economy over a particular period of time (usually a year) 17 GVA or Gross Value Added is part of the measurement of GDP and measures the contribution to the economy of each individual producer, industry or sector in the UK. GVA is used to measure the overall economic well-being of an area. 18


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008


What do we want to happen?

Priority Areas


Policy Drivers

Business Support & quality standards

Region-wide mainstream access to women-friendly advice & support. Currently 23% of Business Link NW clients are women.

RES Action 3 National Enterprise Strategy Regional Enterprise Strategy

Lead organisation(s) and Key Partners Business Link Northwest (BLNW) Business Support providers


Prowess (Flagship)

- six additional Flagship providers (08/09)

Access to women focused business support when required Ensuring providers meet quality standards such as Prowess Flagship

- establish pilot virtual women’s business centre (08/09)

- gender awareness and equality/diversity training for all Business Link business advisers (08/11)

Increase in the conversion rate of women enquiring about starting a business to actual start-up.

- 30% of Business Link NW clients are women (08/09) Access to Finance

Increased awareness and access to sources of finance for women business owners Greater numbers of women accessing public sector loans/equity schemes

RES Action 5 National Enterprise Strategy Regional Enterprise Strategy

NWDA Banks Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs)

- investment-readiness workshop, targeted at women, in each subregion (08/09)

North West HEIs BLNW EMBF Providers of financial services

- increase access to equity funds including specific financial initiatives - increase in regional female business angels


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

Priority Areas


Policy Drivers

Lead organisation(s) and Key Partners

Actions from 3% to 10% of the Business Angel network membership by 2010

Mentoring & coaching

Coordinated women-focused mentoring programme across the region

National Enterprise Strategy Regional Enterprise Strategy


North West HEIs [NWUA] Improved marketing/promotion of existing mentoring provision

BLNW EMBF Private sector organisations

Access to e-mentoring where appropriate Procurement (private & public sector)

Work with corporate sector to increase procurement opportunities for womenled businesses

RES Actions 11 & 99 National Enterprise Strategy

NWDA WE Connect (private sector)

Awareness-raising and promotion of enterprise to women in BME communities Targeted pre-start and business support for women from minority ethnic communities

- 15 mentoring case studies (08/09)

- 6 WEConnect certificated Northwest businesses (08/09) - 2 new corporate members from Northwest (08/10)

Work with Government and public sector to diversify supply chain and encourage more procurement opportunities for women-led businesses

Ethnic Minority Business

- access to coordinated mentoring information online, through Business Link website

RES Action 3 National Enterprise Strategy Regional Enterprise Strategy Ethnic Minority Business Task Force

NWDA EMBF NW BLNW Business support providers

- monitor annual increase in BME women seeking business support from Business Link

Increase number of women from BME communities seeking business support


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

Priority Areas


Policy Drivers

Lead organisation(s) and Key Partners


RES Actions 3, 53, 108, 109 National Enterprise Strategy Regional Enterprise Strategy OTS Social Enterprise Action Plan

NWDA Social Enterprise NW

- monitor annual increase of women seeking business support for social enterprises

Regional Skills Priorities Statement RES Actions 26 – 40 (particularly 34)

Regional Skills Partnership LSC

assistance from BLNW and brokers

Social Enterprise

Promote the concept of social enterprise to women Integrate social enterprise into women’s enterprise development activity

Sub-regional social enterprise partnerships

Encourage more women to consider social enterprise as a business option where appropriate Work with voluntary sector to encourage more female involvement in trading activities


Provide management and business skills training for women starting businesses Encourage women business owners to increase skills of their employees Encourage more existing women business owners to seek leadership and management training

North West HEIs [NWUA] Business support providers

- monitor number of women-owned businesses using Train to Gain - monitor womenowned businesses receiving business skills training - monitor number of women accessing leadership & management training - ensure HEIs and other


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

Priority Areas

Science, Engineering, Construction & Technology (SECT) & Innovation


Encourage more women with SECT qualifications and experience to consider entrepreneurship. Work with education sector to encourage more girls and young women to study science and technology, along with enterprise

Policy Drivers

Lead organisation(s) and Key Partners

Innovation Strategy (Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills DIUS) RES Actions 15 & 39 Northwest Science Strategy

NWDA Northwest Science Council UK Resource Centre for Women in science, engineering and technology (UKRC) National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship (NCGE)

RES Action 36 National Enterprise Strategy

NWUA NCGE Local Authorities Women’s Enterprise Ambassadors Enterprise Insight

Actions providers capture relevant disaggregated information - monitor increase in women-owned SECT businesses seeking support (from 09/10)

Work with the education sector to encourage and enable more women (students, graduates, staff and the wider business community) to: - identify and exploit emerging research and technology apply existing research and technology into new areas to support new business start-ups across all sectors [NWUA]


Encourage more girls and young women to get involved in enterprise education

Work with HEIs and FECs to understand existing enterprise education provision and to ascertain the potential benefits and demand for gender specific provision

- monitor gender specific enterprise education provision (08/09)


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

Priority Areas


Policy Drivers

Lead organisation(s) and Key Partners


Rural Development

Encourage women in rural areas to set up enterprises and diversify rural economy

Rural Development Plan for England

NWDA Women In Rural Enterprise Northwest Sub-regional Partnerships

- recruit 20 additional rural-based ambassadors (08/09)



- complete mapping of regional women’s enterprise networks (08/09)

Encourage women in rural areas to connect with regional networks and business support provision Ensure appropriate coverage for business and skills support for women in rural areas, and monitoring of activity levels Representatives from rural areas of the region to join the NWWEF and Women Ambassadors Programme

Network Development & Coordination

Improve and coordinate networking opportunities for women across the region Work with existing networks to improve effectiveness and reach Further develop cost-effective peer support for women business owners Increase participation / female membership numbers in mainstream business network/organisations e.g. CBI, IOD, FSB etc.

- create network information section in pilot women’s business centre portal (08/09)


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

Priority Areas


Policy Drivers

Promotion and awareness-raising

National marketing campaign for women’s enterprise to incorporate BERR’s promotional initiative with Enterprise Insight

National Enterprise Strategy

Lead organisation(s) and Key Partners NWDA Enterprise Insight NWEF

Develop regional Women’s Enterprise Ambassador Programme

Actions - increase the Women’s Enterprise Ambassador network by 20% with particular focus on rural, sectoral, BME and young entrepreneurs (08/09) - 20% increase in Women in Business Awards entries

Annual Northwest Women in Business Awards Increase media coverage of women’s enterprise activity

- distribution of 5000 copies of NWWEF prospectus across region (08/09) - Prowess national conference held in NW (08/09)

Baseline evidence required for 09/10 targets.

Sub-regional demographics BME women in business 50+ women in business Disabled women in business Sectoral information (e.g. SECT)


Establish baseline data for: - the region using surveys including the ONS Labour Force Survey and the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) - women enquiring, applying for and accessing loans & equity (08/09)


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

Priority Areas


Policy Drivers

Lead organisation(s) and Key Partners


- BME women-owned businesses by 08/09 - women-led social enterprises by 08/09 - establish baseline data for women-owned SECT businesses in region by 08/09 - girls/young women undertaking enterprise modules (by 08/09) - women-owned rural enterprises by 08/09 - peer network support activity (08/10)

Northwest Enterprise Strategy

The Women’s Enterprise Action Plan will link directly into the Regional Enterprise Strategy’s Key Performance Indicators which are set out in Appendix V. Where applicable it will ensure the gender disaggregation of data gathered to satisfy these KPIs


- information re female membership of business representative organisations (08/09) - impact on the Regional Enterprise Strategy’s Key Performance Indicators


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

5. How will we make the action plan work? 5.1 The action plan will work with: •

strong leadership from the Northwest Women’s Enterprise Forum (NWWEF)

commitment and ‘buy-in’ from the NWDA

collaboration and commitment across key regional agencies and organisations

support from women business-owners and their networks

assistance from the Northwest Women’s Enterprise Ambassadors

collaboration with national organisations such as Prowess and its new national centre for women’s enterprise policy and research

Responsibility for the coordination of the action plan lies with the NWWEF and the NWDA and delivery will lie with a wide range of enterprise partners and stakeholders. The regional women’s enterprise development manager will coordinate stakeholder activity and monitor progress. An external formal evaluation process will be commissioned and a first-year review published in the autumn of 2009.

6. How will we know it’s been successful? 6.1 The Action Plan details the actions expected from its implementation, both qualitative and quantitative. These will be monitored over the next three years. But in addition, there are a number of ‘harder-to-measure’ outcomes which are worth noting, for example: • Strategically influence key partners and stakeholders in the region to reflect the women’s enterprise agenda in their enterprise policies and facilitate a greater understanding of the issues affecting women in business. • Increase in the reporting of women's business success in the mainstream media. 22

Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

• Greater engagement of private sector companies in promoting women’s enterprise (including business representative organisations such as Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Institute of Directors (IOD) and Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)) with consequently higher numbers of female members and non-executive directorships.


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

Appendix i Women’s Enterprise Data and Statistics One of the challenges in setting targets and objectives for women’s enterprise activity is the lack of available disaggregated data across business and enterprise. Key sources of business ownership statistics such as VAT registrations and HMRC data are not broken down by gender (or ethnicity) and the main baseline information comes from large surveys such as the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM)19 and the Annual Small Business Survey (ASBS). GEM 2007 National/Regional comparison A key part of the Northwest RES is to build the enterprise agenda amongst specific groups, for example women, ethnic minorities and disabled people, in the interests of increasing the business base of the region which currently is below average for the UK as a whole.

Over the period since 2002, there is a strong suggestion that entrepreneurial activity both for the population as a whole and for women in particular has increased from a position where the region was below average for the UK to one now where the region is statistically average for the UK.

The following data illustrates recent trends:

The Northwest in 2007 had a slightly below average level of early-stage entrepreneurial activity (TEA) amongst women at 3.4% compared with the average for the UK of 3.7%.

Female entrepreneurship in the Northwest has more than doubled since 2002 rising from 1.5% to 3.4%.

Female early-stage entrepreneurial activity is 47% of male activity in the Northwest, which is similar to the UK average of 49%. The gender gap



Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

in the Northwest means, therefore, that for every one hundred men who start a business, forty-seven women will also be starting up.

Women’s established business ownership is 24% of male in the Northwest. This compares to 44% in the South West where the ratio is highest and 35 for the UK average. The rate for the Northwest is the lowest equal for all the UK regions.

Additional data: Female-owned SMEs in the Northwest20

Most SMEs in the Northwest are owned by men or led by management teams dominated by men. Only 12% are women led - the UK average is 14%.

Women-led businesses tend to be smaller than average – 86% of women led businesses were micro businesses (i.e. less than 10 employees).

Women-led enterprises were less well established than those led by men – 24% were a recent start up compared to 18% for male-led businesses.

7% of Northwest SME employers are led by members of BME communities; for the UK as a whole the figure is 8%. Only 0.4% are led by BME women.



Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

Appendix ii

Key Regional Stakeholders BLNW

Business Link Northwest


Ethnic Minority Business Forum Northwest


Learning and Skills Council


Northwest Regional Development Agency


Northwest Enterprise Forum


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Forum


North West Universities Association


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

Appendix iii

The Northwest Women’s Enterprise Forum (NWWEF) Established by the NWDA to increase the number of women starting up and growing their own businesses in the region, the Northwest Women's Enterprise Forum aims to create an environment in which enterprising women have the skills, confidence, support and opportunities to make an equal contribution to economic prosperity by: •

Providing a collaborative, long-term approach to women’s enterprise

Creating an environment that encourages women into business

Supporting the development of partnerships in the region

Sharing good practice

Undertaking mapping and research of the provision of women’s business support providers

Key actions for the Forum include: •

Working with partners to influence regional and national women’s enterprise policy

Generating additional access to finance for women entrepreneurs

Working towards removing barriers for women who are carers

Facilitate the roll-out of a quality framework for business support to get more women into business

The Forum is responsible for the implementation and monitoring of the Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan. For more information visit


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

Appendix iv

National Women’s Enterprise Task Force

Vision and Objectives The Women’s Enterprise Task Force was established in 2007 to accelerate the rate of women starting and growing businesses in the UK. Increasing levels of female business ownership is central to productivity and economic gains; the US level of female ownership is 28%, the UK is only 14%. Men are still twice as likely to start businesses as women. Through the work of the Task Force the levels of women owned businesses in the UK will be increased, creating jobs and wealth. The Task Force will measure success by monitoring:

Number of Women Owned Businesses

Jobs Created

Increase in annual turnover

Increase in GVA

Changes in entrepreneurial attitudes among women

Priorities The Task Force is addressing five priority areas:

1. Provide high quality gender disaggregated business data to show progress, monitor impact and improve our understanding of women owned businesses. 2. Ensure every woman has access to high-quality business support from pre-pre start up stage onwards. 3. Ensure every woman knows where to go for financial and technical education. 4. Supplier






recognise the importance and value of women owned businesses as part of their supply chain and demand accredited







Opportunities (public and private) and how these can be promoted to women. The Task Force, in partnership with Prowess, has launched a national accreditation programme for


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

women owned businesses to access new public and private sector supply chains, called WE Connect. 5. Awareness of women’s enterprise as driver of productivity and GVA growth. Through PR and awareness-raising the Task Force will build visibility and confidence in this important area of enterprise policy.

Appendix v


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

Northwest Regional Enterprise Strategy - Key Performance Indicators 1.1 Spatial Indicators It is vital that the implementation of the actions outlined in this Strategy are monitored and evaluated to ensure that the objectives of this Strategy and the region’s enterprise performance are being realised. Success will be measured annually towards a 2026 vision (see paragraph 4.9). Monitoring will take place at various levels: Regional Level i) PSA Target – the regional number of VAT registered start-ups per 10,000 adults ii) start-up data21 – business density (VAT registered businesses per 10,000 adults); VAT registrations/de-registrations per 10,000 adults; positive ‘churn’ rate (increasing VAT de-registrations but overall business density increasing); % of employment being self-employed; % start-up survival rate at 36 months iii)annual GEM Survey of Total Entrepreneurial Activity and its sub set analyses of positive indicators of entrepreneurship. These measures will be disaggregated to sub-regional/local levels where available. Sub-regional/local Level i) achievement of LAA/MAA targets and, in aggregate, regional targets ii) performance of relevant regional programmes to achieve agreed local targets Programme Level i)performance management and monitoring of each enterprise support programme, plus post completion evaluation ii) increasing instances of different funding streams being aggregated into single programmes resulting in value for money i.e. improved outputs/outcomes and/or reduced unit costs Individual Level i)increasing levels of market intelligence from BLNW on clients barriers/needs and its ability to broker to relevant products, including from the private sector ii) BLNW customer satisfaction ratings e.g. for start-up enquiries iii) Pilot an approach to survey businesses to measure indicators showing a positive enterprise culture e.g. growth ambition, indicators of innovation, leadership and management etc.


The Government plans to monitor business start-ups via PAYE returns from Autumn 2008.


Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008



Entrepreneurial Attitudes

Start-up Levels

GEM survey of entrepreneurial attitudes and perceptions : • Expect to start a business in 3 years • Know someone who has recently started a business • See good start-up opportunities • Have the skills to start a business • Fear of failure


• • •


VAT registered start-ups/survival rates Business density Self-employment rates Total entrepreneurial activity (GEM survey)

Business Performance • • •

New/ improved products Number of exporters Business productivity

The Government plans to monitor business start-ups via PAYE returns from Autumn 2008.