Female Business Champion appointed to help new and growing firms

Lorely Burt MP has been appointed 'women in enterprise' champion. In her role she will help female entrepreneurs and women-led businesses understand the help available to their new and growing firms.

The work that Lorely Burt will conduct will complement the work already being led by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to create a more entrepreneurial culture and make the UK the best place to start and grow a business.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said, "Lorely will bring a wealth of experience to this role, having worked in and started up her own business. She is not only a role model for other female entrepreneurs, but will be an ambassador for the support currently available to ambitious women-led firms.

"Female-led businesses currently make up 20 per cent of small and medium sized businesses, and it's important when women consider starting their own businesses they know more about the support and help on offer, and the opportunities available."

Lorely Burt said, "Just 20 per cent of British businesses are owned and controlled by women. This is a shocking waste of entrepreneurial talent that should be enriching customers, businesses and our economy generally.

"My job will be to investigate the true picture of women's enterprise in Britain and how government can encourage existing and would-be entrepreneurs reach their full potential - I can't wait."

The role will be unpaid and will last until the end of 2014. She has been asked to:

  • Raise awareness amongst women about the Government's offer for new and growing businesses
  • Raise awareness of the sources and types of business finance
  • Encourage more women-led businesses to compete for public sector contracts
  • Generate more Queen's Award for Enterprise nominations for female entrepreneurs and women-led businesses
  • Report on her achievements and insights in the autumn.

Her role will be independent of Government, but will support what Government is trying to achieve and will complement other initiatives already underway such as the Entrepreneurs in Residence and the Entrepreneurs forum.

Lorely Burt began her career in the Prison Service as an Assistant Governor at Holloway, before working for prominent national companies in the field of personnel and training, later setting up her own award-winning training company. Her political career began in 2001.

Around a million (20 per cent) SMEs in the UK were women majority-led at the start of 2013. Female self-employment has seen four times the rate of growth as male self-employment over the last six years. The number of women in self-employment has increased 29 per cent since 2008. The increase in self-employed men was only seven per cent over the same period.

Notes to editors

  1. The Total Early Stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) for women in the UK in 2013 (5.8 per cent) is higher than in France (3.1 per cent), Germany (3.9 per cent) and Japan (2.7 per cent). Female TEA is lower in the UK than in the US, but this is almost entirely a country difference and not a gender difference.
  1. Women-led SMEs are just as likely to export as male-led SMEs. Women-led businesses are also equally successful in raising finance, and just as likely to have the intention to grow their business.
  1. However, female-led businesses seek significantly lower amounts of finance, are less likely to consider using equity finance, and less likely to know how to raise equity finance. Start-up capitalisation by women-owned businesses is less than half of male-owned businesses.
  1. This suggests that women-led businesses may take on fewer risks, scale-up less quickly and be more likely to have under-realised their potential to grow.
  2. The Government's economic policy objective is to achieve 'strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries.' It set four ambitions in the 'Plan for Growth' (PDF 1.7MB):
  • To create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • To make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • To encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • To create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.

Work is underway across Government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the Government wants the economy to travel.

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