By Daniel Hunter
Women entrepreneurs could play a bigger role in the UK economy, creating jobs and boosting growth as well as reducing gender inequality, according to the findings of an independent report.
Business Secretary Vince Cable’s 'women in enterprise' champion, Lorely Burt MP, published the report making a number of recommendations aimed at boosting the number of female entrepreneurs.
The report, ‘Inclusive Support for Women in Enterprise’, found that although the number of female-run small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) has increased, there is still more to be done to close the gender gap between men and women.
The government has already taken a number of steps to inspire and support women to set up and grow their own businesses, including the £1 million Women and Broadband Challenge Fund, a series of mentoring events and the Aspire Fund.
Last year UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) published a guide for first time exporters aimed at helping women expand into overseas markets. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Government Equalities Office have also launched a new research project to find new ways of reaching out to female entrepreneurs.
The government will be writing to the 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships to remind them of the importance of representing the communities they operate in, with more diverse boards and supporting all businesses in their area.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "I appointed Lorely as ‘women in enterprise champion’ so she could build on the good work we’ve already done and help us increase entrepreneurial aspiration among women.
"Reaching our target of 25% women on FTSE 100 boards by 2015 is now in sight. The government is committed to ensuring that talented women have the tools at hand whether it’s running a business on their own or heading up a corporate board.
"The evidence is clear - gender diversity delivers better business decisions which are vital to securing the future prosperity of the UK."
Lorely Burt said: "I was delighted when Vince offered me the chance to do something for women entrepreneurs.
"Women entrepreneurs have huge potential to build on Britain’s hard-won recovery, creating a stronger economy and a fairer society.
"Sadly too much female entrepreneurial talent remains untapped although the coalition government has made progress.
"In my report I outline the economic and the moral case for taking further action to unlock women’s business talent.
"We need to encourage government and business to think inclusively at all times. We must also break unnecessary barriers between entrepreneurs and the support they need to succeed.
"I am pleased to see the government is taking action and I look forward to further progress over the years ahead."
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