Wednesday, July 15, 2015

News: Funding to support female entrepreneurs

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A new government fund aimed at supporting female entrepreneurs has been secured by the Superfast South Yorkshire programme.

Click South Yorkshire will provide £67,000 to support women from across South Yorkshire to utilise superfast broadband to expand or develop their businesses.

The funding builds on existing provision in the area, through Enterprising Barnsley's Click e-commerce accelerator programme, which has already seen 12 innovative business people, half of which are female, receive intensive support to grow and create jobs.

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Superfast South Yorkshire is the partnership with the leadership of the four partners' authorities in South Yorkshire, alongside the support of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), that is increasing broadband speeds covering over 102,000 residential and business premises across eight delivery phases. The project is part of the government's BDUK initiative which is based on a gap funded subsidy approach, where the private sector invests alongside a public subsidy to provide broadband to areas where there is not otherwise a viable commercial market.

Natalie Ward, broadband programme manager for Superfast South Yorkshire, said: "The scheme will offer women, who are able to access superfast broadband, the opportunity to maximise the business benefits available, whilst gaining digital skills through the use of new technology. This is an exciting opportunity for South Yorkshire women who are looking to start a business."

The Women and Broadband programme has been funded by the Government Equalities Office to help women start or grow their own business by getting them online and making new technology work for them. It will focus on female digital entrepreneurs and will include workshops, seminars and one to one support as well as networking events.

The Click South Yorkshire programme aims to support up to 100 women, living in the Superfast South Yorkshire broadband rollout areas, to develop, build and deliver an e-commerce business idea to the point where they are actively selling online. It is delivered through a partnership between Barnsley Council's business growth team Enterprising Barnsley; Barnsley Digital Media Centre (DMC) and UK business start-up experts Enterprise Nation.

Tracey Johnson of Enterprising Barnsley and Barnsley Digital Media Centre, said: "We are absolutely delighted with this announcement. The new funding will help us to develop digital skills within our communities, giving women the tools they need to build a successful business that fits their interests and lifestyle."

The programme will be offered through online learning; face to face drop in sessions at accessible local venues across the region and the DMC; and via workshops seminars and networks led by successful local female business owners and ecommerce specialists. Through the funding, the Digital Media Centre will also develop a Click Together network for women in digital business. Click Together will be made up of women at different stages of their digital business journey. It will provide peer support and engagement beyond the life of the funding programme and will connect with the existing Click ecommerce hub at the Digital Media Centre in Barnsley.

Emma Jones, founder of fast-growth small business network Enterprise Nation, added: "Research has shown that women often need specific help to get their enterprises off the ground and then to grow."Yet despite a rapid growth in female entrepreneurship, they are still less likely to be accepted for finance or seek out that vital support. This new initiative will target women and help them to build digital skills to understand how they can use technology to help their businesses thrive."

Superfast South Yorkshire website
Enterprising Barnsley website

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