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A dedicated new online hub has been launched to coincide with the release of a detailed report about the challenges faced by women in business and leadership in Lancashire.

The Women in Enterprise Hub has been funded and launched by Boost; Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub.

It provides details of current female business support and events services as well as showcasing inspirational women in the county through Q&A interviews.

It has been launched in response to the Growing Women, Growing Lancashire report, which was funded by Boost and authored by two influential leaders in Lancashire’s business support community, Jane Binnion and Wendy Bowers. This report is now available to view in the new hub.

A Women in Enterprise steering group has also been established to work alongside the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and create a long-term strategy to grow the number of women in business and leadership in the county.

Andrew Leeming, programme manager, Boost, said: “We all need to do more to support female entrepreneurs and business leaders across the county.

“This is not simply about creating a new hub on the Boost website. It is a signal that Boost and Lancashire County Council is responding to this important report and will continue to work with Jane and Wendy to improve the economic landscape for our female entrepreneurs.

“We want to better understand the unique challenges women in business face and begin to tackle these together.”

Growing Women, Growing Lancashire maps the number of women owning businesses and leading organisations. It finds that less than one in four businesses is owned by a woman and only one in five directors are women. The percentage of female directors has remained unchanged since 2014.

The report cites national research, in particular the Alison Rose Review (2019), in addition to compiling local research and reveals a landscape where more women than ever are starting businesses but very few of those grow to £1m turnover.

It analyses Lancashire’s business support landscape, including the support offered by Boost, local authorities and several other organisations, and offers a number of recommendations to how the business support community can better support Lancashire women.

It finds that while there are equal numbers of men and women accessing new business support through Boost, mentoring and coaching (Boost Growth Mentoring and Boost Bespoke) support for established businesses has a split of 60 per cent male and 40 per cent female.

Wendy Bowers, co-author of the report and founder of the business coaching and leadership organisation Role, said: “There is no national strategy to support women in leadership and business and Lancashire’s response to the recommendations in the report has been swift and impressive.

“We already have a Women in Enterprise steering group in place, working in conjunction with the Lancashire LEP as well as a six-month women’s business growth programme Women Scaling Up through Lancashire County Council’s Two Zero scaleup service, which will begin in September.

“The Boost online hub is the third recommendation in the report and will be an online space where organisations can celebrate women’s success stories and women can find support, events and more which are designed at times to suit women and in ways that support women.”

Jane Binnion, co-author of the report and co-founder of women’s business growth organisation The Growing Club CIC, said: “It was back in 2015 that we worked with Boost and partners to run the Listening Out Loud event, to explore the various issues for women in business in Lancashire.

“So to have been given the opportunity and support this year to produce this report, launch the steering group and this online hub, is just fantastic.

“The Growing Club has been delivering women in business support for six years and we can now look forward to women across the county having the opportunity to access the right business support for them, be it start-up or growth.”

Boost is Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub and is led by Lancashire County Council and the Lancashire LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership). It is supported by funding from Lancashire County Council, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The report was led by Boost through the Boost Resilience programme, utilising funds from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Boost’s Women in Business Hub, including the Growing Women, Growing Lancashire report, can be accessed on the Boost website here.

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