Alexander, Pam and Stone, Glenda and Ahmad, S and Carter, Sara and Dwyer, Val (2009) Greater return on women's enterprise (GROWE) : final report and recommendations of the women's enterprise task force. SEEDA, women’s enterprise task force. Women’s Enterprise Task Force.
This Women’s Enterprise Task Force (WETF) report, Greater Return On Women’s Enterprise (GROWE), sets out the economic case for women’s enterprise and advises partners and stakeholders how to achieve a greater economic return from investment in women’s enterprise. The Task Force has framed its recommendations to maximise existing investment and resources. We are mindful of the Government’s Business Support Simplification Programme and the effect the recession will continue to have on public spending, and so suggest that relevant Government departments and private sector organisations work together to streamline support and make best use of existing investment. In providing thought leadership to increase the quantity, scalability and success of women’s enterprise in the UK, the WETF has informed the national agenda on women’s enterprise for the last three years, concentrating its efforts on five specific Pillars: 1. gender-disaggregated business data 2. female-friendly business support 3. access to finance and technology 4. supplier diversity and procurement 5. strategic influencing and awareness raising. WETF highlights of the past three years include paving the way for a Business Link national data disaggregation methodology whilst influencing and shaping the establishment, direction and implementation of Aspire, a £12.5m women’s co-investment fund to support high-growth women-owned businesses. Alongside this, the WETF has played an important role in raising awareness of the economic case for women’s enterprise and the potential of female entrepreneurs in aiding the UK’s economic recovery. Perhaps most importantly, the WETF met with the Prime Minister and saw important policy developments taken forward in the Government’s Enterprise Strategy of March 2008. In 2009 the WETF contributed to the enterprise knowledge bank by producing two research reports into women’s enterprise: Impact of the Recession on Women’s Enterprise and Myths and Realities of Women’s Access to Finance. The Task Force welcomes progress made by the Ethnic Minority Business Task Force (EMBTF) in the advocacy of complementary areas which include the need for access to finance, disaggregated data and supplier diversity. Much of the groundwork for the WETF’s work was laid out in the Government’s 2003 publication, A Strategic Framework for Women’s Enterprise. In 2003, it was estimated that women constituted around 27% of self-employed people in the UK, and that only 12-14% of businesses were majority-owned by women (compared to 28% in the USA). From the Strategic Framework for Women’s Enterprise, to the establishment of the WETF and the Enterprise Strategy, Government has shown the importance that it attaches to women in enterprise and its recognition of the increased economic benefits women can contribute to UK plc. This must be even more important in emerging from recession. Recently, Government has a produced a policy statement, Building Britain’s Future: New Industry, New Jobs (NINJ), which sets out Government’s vision for economic recovery and growth by targeted intervention aimed at hightech, high-growth firms. The WETF has several recommendations for how enterprising women can take advantage of these interventions. Enterprise has a significant role to help women remain economically active and increase the productivity and international competitiveness of the UK. Recent figures from 2009 show that women, who make up 46% of the workforce, now constitute nearly 29% of the self-employed in the UK (up 2 percentage points). 15% of the 4.8 million enterprises in the UK are now majority-led by women. The longer-term quantitative targets outlined in the Framework included women accounting for 40% of customers using Government sponsored business support services; and women-owned businesses accounting for 18-20% of the UK total. Government has gone some way towards achieving these targets. Today, women-owned businesses account for around one third of Business Link customers, a major increase on the 22.3% or nearly 150,000 women customers in Q1 of 2005/6. However, overall progress has been very slow and neither of the Framework targets set for completion by 2006 has yet been met. More work needs to be done to address this and the other issues facing women’s enterprise today. This report examines how to further increase the current £70 billion Gross Value Added (GVA) and £130 billion turnover annual contribution made by women’s enterprise to the UK economy. Recent figures suggest that 900,000 more businesses would be created if the UK achieved the same levels of female entrepreneurship as in the US, resulting in an additional £23 billion GVA to the UK economy, thus largely closing the productivity gap with the US.1 In Britain alone, 150,000 extra businesses would be created per annum if women started businesses at the same rate as men.2 This is especially pertinent in this time of recession. With effective, targeted support, increasing the number of women entrepreneurs will be an important factor in driving economic recovery.
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