Best practice award for University women enterprise scheme
(8 May 2003)
Women Into the Network (WIN), a networking initiative based at the University of Durham, has been selected as the UK’s best practice initiative for promoting female entrepreneurship by a European Union commissioned survey.
As a result of this, WIN has represented the UK at the European Forum on Female Entrepreneurship in Brussels which was attended by countries from across Europe.
The European Commission charged the Austrian Institute for Small Business Research with the task of identifying specific actions and measures promoting female entrepreneurship throughout Europe. The criteria focussed on actions and measures in seven areas: support for start ups; funding; training; mentoring; information; advice and consultancy, and networking. Across the board, 132 initiatives were identified as potential success stories. In the UK, ten initiatives fulfilled the criteria and WIN was selected as a clear example of good practice.
WIN, facilitated by the Foundation for Small and Medium Enterprise Development, runs a number of different activities to raise awareness, promote business development, share best practice and encourage and inspire women entrepreneurs in the region. Activities and projects include an online service, quarterly newsletter, role-model publications, research into provision of business support for women, workshops and events.
Dinah Bennett, Programme Director for the Foundation said: “Research has shown that women face a number of difficulties in establishing and maintaining businesses which often are more significant for female entrepreneurs than for males. This award is a fantastic recognition for the support mechanisms, networking opportunities and women owned businesses we have set up in the last four years.”
Since its inception, WIN has helped facilitate the creation of over 500 jobs in women owned businesses as well as given ongoing support to female entrepreneurs in the region. One woman who has benefited from WIN is Sandra Richardson, Business Adviser for Business Link Tees Valley. Sandra commented: “WIN gives me the chance to meet women from all over the region and learn about the barriers to setting up and succeeding in business. WIN provides encouragement, education and mutual support. Women run stable, well-managed businesses and make an invaluable contribution to the local economy. We need more of them!”
In order to recognise and reward the contribution being made to the North East economy by women, WIN hosts the North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. Now in their fourth year, these prestigious awards are targeted at small and medium businesses which make up much of the region’s economic base. The awards help raise the profile of women in the region and act as role models to help inspire other women to become entrepreneurs. Nominations are invited now from female entrepreneurs, young and old, and in all areas of the business community.
Last year’s overall winner was Margaret Clare from Solutions Recruitment in Newcastle who has helped to make her business the success it is today with a turnover of £3.5m by concentrating on technology and innovation, customer focus, community support and ethics. Margaret said: “WIN empowers women and helps them understand that many avenues are opening to them, which were previously closed or unexplored. To enable women to make a more active contribution in the business and entrepreneurial world it is important that they are shown role models of ordinary individuals who have set up or expanded businesses. By doing so, we will enable the next generation of females in business to accept issues as their right which the present generation has had to work hard to attain.”
Notes to Editors
- Nominations are invited for the nine categories in the North East Woman Entrepreneur Awards with the launch event held on Thursday 29 May at the Centre for Life in Newcastle. You can find out more by visiting the website at www.networkingwomen.co.uk or contacting Lisa Vickers.
- WIN currently has almost 1,000 registered members from a variety of background and sectors.
Dinah Bennett, Programme Director, Foundation for SME Development, Tel: 0191 334 5497, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dionne Hamil, Media & Publications Officer, Public Relations, Tel: 0191 334 6078, Email: email@example.com
Margaret Clare, Managing Director, Solutions Recruitment, Tel: 0191 281 4284, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Vickers, Women Into the Network, Tel: 0208 274 8416, Email: email@example.com