Title European Integrated Business Growth for Female Owned Enterprises
Project Number UK/09/LLP-LdV/TOI-163_257
Project Type Transfer of Innovation
Country UK-United Kingdom
Marketing Text Governments globally are recognising the potential of women's enterprise as a significant contributor to economic recovery. Yet women start far fewer businesses than men. The Women's Business Development Agency (WBDA) has developed a unique programme to support women's businesses with high growth potential.During this project we partnered with agencies in Poland, Italy and Bulgaria to adapt our programme for local delivery. We also created a virtual learning environment and virtual international marketplace for women in partner countries.We intend to roll this out across Europe in the next 3-5 years.
Female entrepreneurs face a set of barriers completely different to those experienced by men in growing their business. Women are not well-served by mainstream business support; many of the barriers experienced by women in their start-up phase (e.g., access to finance and confidence issues) remain in place when they wish to grow. There is alarming evidence in the UK that women are being disproportionately affected by the current economic climates. In Bulgaria, currently there are no business growth programmes specifically tailored to female entrepreneurs. In N Italy, rural female owned businesses experience difficulties in accessing support services. Across Europe, more women than men are losing their jobs. It is particularly vital, therefore, that women have appropriate support at this time. • This Project had three key aims. Firstly to adapt three female business growth training programmes that exist in the UK, to test and apply these approaches in Poland, Italy and Bulgaria to support female entrepreneurs in growing their established businesses. Secondly, the Project delivered high growth business support to women where there are gaps in the provision of VET systems by training business advisers and trainers in the partner countries. Thirdly, we promoted a training framework that was specific to the target group and which addressed the different labour market and sector needs and their learning needs for adoption in other EU countries.
The partnership consisted mainly of Chambers of Commerce and was able to access mentors and learners in each country to test training requirements and needs to adapt and then apply three business growth VET programmes. • The outputs, results and products comprised an evaluation of the current provision of female business growth support in each partner country; the widespread promotion and dissemination of the progammes that will be transferable for adoption in other EU countries; creation of a project web-site for dissemination; testing e-learning facility; video footage of learner/trainer experiences; a course manual in 4 languages; an evaluation report measuring the effectiveness of high growth support • 60 female business owners were trained on gender specific business growth programmes to be piloted for the first time in partner countries. Also, business advisers and trainers in partner countries were trained in delivering the pilot programmes.
One key objective was to develop and sustain the growth of female owned enterprises in partner countries through the provision of vocational skills. This was achieved by identifying gaps in the provision of business growth programmes and then piloting accredited, gender-sensitive vocational courses, to test and apply these approaches in Poland, Italy and Bulgaria. To ensure the participation of female learners the project adopted a series of measures in each partner country to encourage women entrepreneurs to consider attending the business growth programmes such as identifying business champions to help promote the availability of courses and to disseminate the benefits of the project more widely; female owner-managers were visited at their premises and homes. The project addressed the changing economic environment and notably globalisation and increased international trade that has brought about the demand for better and adapted skills (New Skills for New Jobs Anticipating and matching labour market and skills needs, EC Communication, 16th Dec 08, p.8). By raising the skills of female entrepreneurs, the project met Leonardo Priority 4 'Develop Vocational Skills considering the labour market needs'. It offered female owned businesses and policy stakeholders the opportunity to network with other EC countries, sharing ideas about learning, as well as opening doors to transnational trading opportunities. This was achieved because the partnership has been strategically formed to include organisations, such as Chambers of Commerce, responsible for driving forward economic initiatives and providing access to business growth opportunities and routes to market in support of female owned companies in their respective countries.
Another key objective supported Leonardo Priorities 2 and 3 since the project delivered high growth business support to women where there are gaps in the provision of VET systems by training business advisers and trainers in the partner countries. In line with the Lisbon Strategy 2006 follow up to the mid-term review, the project supported the aim to 'improve the SME business environment'. Through knowledge transfer, WBDA not only advised trainers in partner countries to help them produce a final training programme course teaching manual, but also ran training workshops in outreach strategy for business support professionals to develop their expertise in providing tailored services to SME female owned enterprises.
audio or video cassettes
1. A report on existing training and support provision for female entrepreneurs
2. A project website available in 4 languages
3. Adaptation and translation of three female growth programme teaching manuals into Bulgarian, Italian and Polish
4. Course impact assessment evaluation report
5. A report documenting the results of developing and testing e-learning facilities
6. Production of online video footage of learners and trainers experiences
Projecthomepage To be confirmed