Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Yesterday, a campaign was launched to increase the number of women entrepreneurs by 100k over the next ten years.

Everywoman, the largest female business community in the UK has linked up with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)'s Real Life Entrepreneurs Campaign to help encourage more women to set up new ventures in the UK, arguing that 150,000 start-ups would be created per year if women started businesses at the same rate as men.

This is not surprising, as according to the last Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report for the UK, female early-stage entrepreneurial activity in the UK in 2010 was 4 per cent of the adult population as compared to 9 per cent for men i.e. the ratio of female to male early-stage entrepreneurial activity was 44 per cent.

There were also considerable variations amongst the four home nations (see below).
As well as a focus on encouraging more women, the FSB's campaign will also promote enterprise amongst young people, the over-50s, those with disabilities, ex-armed forces personnel and those who are currently living on benefits.

This strategy by the FSB sounds excellent but for those of us who have been involved in entrepreneurship in Wales, it has a sense of real deja vu, given that there was a particular focus on encouraging more starts-ups amongst women, minority ethnic groups, social enterprise and young people within the Entrepreneurship Action Plan for Wales a decade ago.

In fact, I remember that thanks to the promotional campaigns managed by the Welsh Development Agency and the various start-ups programmes targeted at women, female entrepreneurship in Wales in 2004 was at three quarters that of the male entrepreneurial activity, one of the best gender balances in entrepreneurship in the whole World.

Since the demise of the Entrepreneurship Action Plan, the targeting of enterprise support towards women has also died a death.

The question is whether Wales, which is in dire need of more entrepreneurial activity, will continue with its non-specific generalist approach to start-ups or again adopt a focus on key groups such as women?