Fast facts from the Women’s Business Council
- 2.4m women want to work, while 1.3m want to work longer hours
- Women-led businesses represent only 20% of SMEs in the UK, up from 12% in 2010
- 46.4% of women say “fear of failure” is a barrier to enterprise, compared with 40.5% of men
- If women had the confidence and support to start businesses at the same rate as men, there would be an extra 1 million female entrepreneurs
- Equalising the labour force could increase economic growth by 0.5% per year; a potential GDP gain of 10% by 2030
That’s why the Government Equalities Office has set up a £1m Women and Broadband Challenge Fund, to be delivered through 40 superfast broadband projects run via local authorities.
Minister for Women, Nicky Morgan, said: “As part of our long-term economic plan for Britain we are determined to do everything we can to support women startups. The fund will give women practical help to get online and take advantage of superfast broadband.”
Missed the digital revolution?
The world is changing faster than ever, especially online. Women who have been out of the workplace for a while due to raising a family or caring for parents might need to update their skills. For example:
- Juliet is a qualified accountant who has been a stay-at-home mum for the past four years. She wants to start her own bookkeeping/accounting company or get a part-time job.
- Karen sells candyfloss at weekends, and wants to learn how to promote her business on the Internet.
- Amanda was a stockbroker before becoming a mum 16 years ago. She is RHS-qualified, and recently launched a small business selling hanging baskets. She needs to set up a website and use social media to expand her customer base.
- Sarah is joining her husband in his new business venture, but neither of them have social media skills and she feels “completely out of touch”.
- Lizzie has finished caring for children and parents, and is looking for a challenge to kickstart her career.
These are among the women who have applied to SurreyWISE (Women In the Superfast Economy) – the project to train 100 women in Surrey to improve their digital skills so they can get a job, start a business or grow a business.
By participating in six two-hour workshops and a Facebook Group, attendees will learn how to use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for business, as well as other digital tools. In addition, they can claim a free website from Youth Web Builders, a Derby company that awards level 2 qualifications to young people aged 16-24, funded by Digital Youth Academy.
The training is valued at £500 per head, and will be run by self-employed digital coaches in ten Surrey parishes:
- Shalford and Sidlow
SurreyWISE ends with a celebration event on 26 March at the Canon HQ in Reigate, where certificates and prizes will be awarded.
How to apply
At the time of writing, 70 women have been accepted onto the SurreyWISE programme, of whom 54 have so far confirmed their place.
To apply, visit surreyWISE.co.uk and quote ref JBSW.
All you need are basic Internet skills, a laptop or smartphone for the course, and wifi at home to practice.