More support for women entrepreneurs
More needs to be done to support women who want to start businesses, according to a report by the All Party Parliamentary Small Business Group.
The Breaking down the barriers to entrepreneurship report, supported by the Federation of Small Businesses, highlights particular groups who need more help to start their own businesses. These include women. It says research shows only 29 per cent of entrepreneurs are women and that if the start-up rate for women equalled that of men, 150,000 additional start-ups would be created each year.
It calls on the Government to ensure that Jobcentre Plus and its devolved equivalents build relationships with existing women's networks and promote mentoring.
The report mentions peer mentoring and the Everywoman Modern Muse campaign, which matches female mentors to female business owners.
The Government recently announced plans to fund 5,000 volunteer women business mentors and a website, Mentorsme, has been set up to connect mentors with small businesses, in addition to the Getmentoring website for women who wish to mentor other women in business.
The report says the role of mentoring needs to be recognised as “of considerable value for those starting new businesses, particularly from groups who have experienced traditional difficulties in making these enterprises a success”.
The report also calls for more deregulation of “red tape”, extending the National Insurance Contributions holiday, building links between education and entrepreneurship, increasing understanding of the diversity of entrepreneurs, simplifying guidance to small businesses and more bank and non-bank financial support for SMEs.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Business Secretary Vince Cable said the Government was trying to tackle issues such as deregulation, but he admitted freeing up finance was “the trickiest issue”. This included attempts to deal with late payments which cause many small businesses to go bust.
He added that the Government had 20 advisers on small businesses, three quarters of whom were women, and websites were being set up to give advice on issues such as taking on an extra worker or setting up a company. He said: 'It's the SMEs that drive the economy.”
Iain Duncan-Smith, Secretary for Work and Pensions, said the Government hoped to get 40,000 people who had been out of work starting new businesses. He believes the universal credit will help incentivise small businesses to take on more part-time workers who can grow organically with the business since the credit will ensure they are always better off in work than on benefits however many hours they work. He added that the universal credit would also make childcare support more flexible as it would contribute towards every hour of childcare a person needed.
He concluded: “SMEs are a vital component of a well-run economy.”