UK government creates new role to support female entrepreneurs
- 24th April 2014
- Women in Business
The UK government has created a whole new position in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to champion female entrepreneurs.
Liberal Democrat MP Lorely Burt has been appointed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to encourage women who are starting out on their own and investigate ways in which the government can support them. A former prison officer at one of the UK’s toughest gaols, Burt, who used to run her own business, will now champion women who set up their own businesses.
Reflecting on the appointment, she said: “Just 20 per cent of British businesses are owned and controlled by women. This is a shocking waste of entrepreneurial talent that should be enriching customers, businesses and our economy generally.
According to the London Post, her role will also include encouraging more female-led firms to compete for public sector contracts and generate more Queen’s Award for Enterprise nominations for female entrepreneurs and their companies.
“My job will be to investigate the true picture of women’s enterprise in Britain and how government can encourage existing and would-be entrepreneurs reach their full potential – I can’t wait,” she said.
Mrs Burt began her career in the prison service and became assistant governor at HMP Holloway, the notorious female-only prison in North London. From there she worked in personnel and training roles for companies like Beecham and Europcar, until she eventually chose to set up her own training company.
It’s this experience of Burt which BIS is hoping will equip her to relate to female entrepreneurs who are either just starting out or running growing businesses. But she has also been a passionate advocate of women in business.
Speaking to the Telegraph, she said that less than a fifth of the UK’s small and medium-sized businesses are led by women compared to three out of ten in the US. As a result, she feels the UK economy is losing out on the contribution of a “really important niche market”. Mrs Burt added that banks also have a role to play in making it easier to obtain finance, since generally most funding has previously come from entrepreneurs’ families.
It is expected that she will announce her findings in the autumn, and that they will inform future policy decisions to make it easier for women to set up new businesses. There is clearly demand for the support too, since the number of women opting for self-employment is growing twice as fast as their male counterparts.
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