International Women's day
8 March 2009

Women possess the potential to create an extra 150,000 new companies every year and hold the key to recovery

By Helen Loveless

Today is International Women’s Day, when the economic, political and social achievements of women are celebrated.

many still face barriers preventing them from setting up in business,
even though entrepreneurs are widely seen as the driving force behind
any economic recovery. Experts are keen to encourage women to take a
more active entrepreneurial role to help the UK out of recession.

entrepreneurs contribute an estimated £130billion a year to the UK
economy, yet figures show that if as many women as men launched
businesses there would be an extra 150,000 start-up firms every year.

Stone is co-chairwoman of the Women’s Enterprise Task Force, which was
set up by Gordon Brown to increase the number of successful, female-run
businesses. She believes lack of confidence is a key factor deterring
many women.

’The majority of women-owned firms are
micro-businesses and this is partly because many women don’t have the
confidence or knowledge about where to go for finance, or how to take
their business to the next level,’ she says. ’Women’s enterprise is
vital in helping the economy to move forward.’

The natural
caution of many businesswomen may also be holding them back, says
Stone. ’Women often achieve more than men with less money because they
are less inclined to borrow,’ she says. ’However, this can lead to them
not being properly resourced, which can hold them back.’

But one
area where women shine is social enterprise. According to the Social
Enterprise Coalition, while men are twice as likely as women to set up
a ’ conventional’ business, women are more likely to launch a social

Uganda-born Ida Horner started Ethnic Supplies, a
social enterprise specialising in handicrafts, textiles and arts and
crafts from east Africa, in 2007.

Ida, 43, from
Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, had been a housing manager for a London
borough, but after visiting Uganda and witnessing the extreme poverty
there, she decided to set up her business. Ida imports Fairtrade
textiles from Madagascar and baskets and jewellery from east African
states including Uganda and Kenya.

’A key motivation for starting my business was to support women in east Africa and enable them to work,’ she says.

far Ida has financed the business through the equity in her home and
from savings. She has also received help from advice service Business
Link. Family and friends help out, too.

’Women are good at networking and mentoring, and having access to this has helped me to see where I can develop,’ she says.

contact Business Link, go to Women can also
approach Addidi Business Angels, which invests in SMEs run by women

Source:This is money