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Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008

Executive Summary

Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan 2008 Executive Summary Introduction The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), Northwest Enterprise Forum (NWEF) and regional partners have developed an Enterprise Strategy which sets out a vision for the region to become one of the most productive in the world, with thriving businesses and communities.

Increasing enterprise activity is a crucial factor in achieving this aim and the region will require many more people who can be competitive, innovative, creative and proactive. And who can generate new ideas and new ways of doing things. So, the Strategy aims to achieve a 20% improvement in recent levels of enterprise performance, translating to an additional 185,000 businesses by 2026. The vision for the Northwest is that enterprise becomes embedded in everyone’s thinking, from school age right through adulthood, achieving benefits for all communities in all parts of the region - and encouraging more women to get involved in enterprising activity will be critical

In spite of some encouraging improvements in entrepreneurial activity, the Northwest is still in the bottom two or three UK regions in terms of business start-ups and needs more than 91,000 people to start new VAT registered businesses or become self employed to reach the national average.

This is why the Northwest Enterprise Strategy addresses the needs of groups which have the potential to close this gap but which are currently underrepresented in business due to the additional barriers they often face. These groups include women, people from Black and Minority Ethnic groups, people with disabilities, young people, and those over the age of 50.

The Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan proactively addresses the needs of all those women in the region who have the desire and attributes needed for enterprise.


In short, helping more and more women right across the region to set up and grow businesses is a critical factor in the success of the region’s Enterprise Strategy and economic prosperity.

Aims of the Action Plan

The Northwest Women’s Enterprise Action Plan relates directly to the region’s Enterprise Strategy, engaging actively with its Enterprising People and Enterprising Businesses elements, and in turn, with the national enterprise strategy ‘Enterprise unlocking the UK’s talent’ which was published earlier this year.

Regional enterprise statistics show that women are still substantially underrepresented within business ownership - only 12% of businesses in the Northwest are majority-owned by women while the UK average stands at 14%.

Nationally and regionally, it is particularly important to encourage women to consider enterprise as they are currently much less likely than men to be involved in enterprise – not because they are less able to do so but because of issues which often prevent first steps towards enterprise. Amongst these are access to finance, caring and family responsibilities and developing selfbelief and confidence.

The Action Plan aims to help local and regional partners to work together to encourage women to take those first steps and to help women already running enterprises to grow their businesses.

The plan also seeks to ensure that women’s enterprise is integral to core activities such as business support, enterprise education and skills development. It encourages partnership working across the public, private and voluntary sectors and within and between the regional women’s business networks and associations.


Fundamentally, the plan aims to provide an inclusive approach to ensure that women in any community across the region can feel confident that they will get the right support and assistance whenever they require it.

This Women’s Enterprise Action Plan places the Northwest at the leading edge of the UK women’s enterprise development. 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.

Implementation and measures of success The Action Plan will build on the work carried out over many years by a range of organisations which have supported women’s enterprise in the region and will be based on cooperative working across a full range of strategic planning, skills development and business support organisations at regional and subregional levels, drawing additionally on a number of regional and sub-regional strategies, policies and funding programmes.

The Plan will require strong leadership and commitment from a range of strategic and operational organisations in the regions. Responsibility for coordination of the Plan lies with the Northwest Women’s Enterprise Forum (NWWEF) and the NWDA and delivery will lie with a wide range of enterprise partners and stakeholders.

It is essential that progress in achieving this Action Plan is reviewed closely. In this context, the key performance indicators for review will reflect and relate to those which form the success criteria of the region’s Enterprise Strategy. The Plan’s performance indicators will include female entrepreneurial attitudes, women-led business start-up levels, women-led business performance and impacts in terms of wealth creation and jobs. An external formal evaluation process will be commissioned and a first-year review published in the autumn of 2009.


Vision Aims A Northwest region where enterprising women have the skills, confidence, support and opportunities to make an equal contribution of enterprise, including social  To increase awareness to economic prosperity. enterprise, among women region-wide (with a particular focus on unemployed or economically inactive women). 

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.

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.

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

To increase the number of sustainable women-led businesses operating in the region with a proportionate impact on regional GDP and GVA. 5

Priority Areas 

Business support & quality standards

Access to Finance

Mentoring & Coaching

Procurement (private & public sector)

Ethnic Minority Business

Social Enterprise


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


Rural Development

Network Development & Coordination

Promotion & awareness-raising

Baseline evidence required for 09/10 targets

Northwest Enterprise Strategy


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