Some of Wales’ most successful female entrepreneurs gathered at the National Assembly for Wales earlier this month to take part in a forum looking at how more women can be encouraged to start and scale-up their own companies.
The UK Economic Blueprint for Women roadshow has been launched by the female entrepreneur group Pink Shoe, with the support of NatWest, and will also visit Birmingham, Liverpool and Edinburgh before producing a White Paper to share with central and devolved governments in the summer of 2019.
Just 20% of the country’s SME sector is made-up of female entrepreneurs according to Pink Shoe, yet businesses launched by women contribute £115bn to the UK economy.
The White Paper aims to use the knowledge and experiences of leading businesswomen to challenge these figures and follows the UK Government’s appointment of Alison Rose, NatWest CEO of Commercial and Private Banking, to lead a review into the barriers faced by female entrepreneurs.
At the opening event in Cardiff nearly 50 delegates came together to discuss areas such as investment, barriers to success and education. They included Catrin Pascoe, editor of the Western Mail; Helen Walby, diversity chair of the Federation of Small Business; Alys Carlton, partner at Capital Law; and Caroline Thompson, CEO of Be The Spark.
Helen Martin Gee, founder and president of Pink Shoe, said:
“Wales is home to many outstanding female entrepreneurs, yet it is vital we create a culture where more women feel able to launch and scale-up their own businesses. This is the missing piece of the puzzle yet the talent is there, which is why this road show is so important.”
Kevin Morgan, NatWest Cymru Board, said:
“Encouraging more women to succeed in business is important to NatWest and one of the key reasons why we are supporting the UK Economic Blueprint for Women roadshow. As a bank we lent over £138m to women to help boost their businesses in 2017, but this is a figure we want to see increase through the empowerment of more women in business.”
Caroline Thompson, CEO of Be The Spark, said:
“It was great to play a part in the Economic Blueprint event; an opportunity to gather key influencers and stakeholders throughout Wales to openly discuss ideas on how we can create a more visible, simple and connected entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
Joyce Watson, AM for Mid and West Wales, who spoke at the event, said:
“We must challenge the inflexible workplace structures and gendered assumptions that trap more women than men in part-time, low-paid work with fewer opportunities for career progression.”
For more information visit www.pinkshoeclub.com.