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Women have the potential to earn pounds 1bn a year for Welsh economy.

Business in Focus has joined with Chwarae Teg to propose an initiative that could help generate 4,300 new jobs and an extra pounds 81m for the Welsh economy.

The programme is currently in the production stage and looking for local support to get it underway. The anticipated scheme, Women Mean Business Wales, will give potential female businesswomen the confidence and skills to start their own business.

A recent report in the Western Mail suggested that companies with women owners and directors are predominantly more profitable than those with men running them. Moreover, the Forum of Private Business has called for more women to start businesses as they found that women managers employ far more staff than men.

Despite this, women continue to face barriers preventing them from reaching management levels.

Principal organiser of Women Mean Business Wales, Ruth Rowe, explained: "There are many reasons why women aren't achieving the same levels of entrepreneurial activity as men, including barriers to finance and lack of personal skills and belief. Our proposed scheme will work with women to overcome these obstructions and enable them to start their own business; and support them right through to business growth, maturity and sustainability."

According to the Global entrepreneurship Monitor (GeM) there was only a slight increase in female entrepreneurial activity in Wales in 2006, up from 3.6% in 2005 to 3.7%, while male rates increased from 6.6% to 7.4%.

Women often find it difficult to access capital as banks can view women's business plans with far higher scepticism than men's. This is not the only area where women miss out; they are still being paid 17.1% less than their male counterparts, a deficit which increases to 40% for part-time female workers.

Ms Rowe continued: "There is a large amount of business potential available, women simply need the support and encouragement to realise it. if Wales achieved the same proportion of women involved in business ventures as men, this would create almost 30,000 more businesses."

Both Business in Focus and Chwarae Teg have previously run very successful women's enterprise programmes.

If your company would like to get involved with WomenMean Business Wales and receive the accompanying benefits, or alternatively if you are an aspiring business woman and need help starting out, please contact Ruth Rowe on 01656 724414 for more information.

Women Mean Business

Businesswomen require a different kind of support which simply isn't accessible through traditional channels. The uK Government recognises this and has made pounds 12.5m available from this year's budget to encourage women into business.

The proposed Women Mean Business Wales scheme is also set to combat this issue and will ultimately reduce the gender gap for entrepreneurial activity.

Principal organiser Ruth Rowe explained: "Our advisers will help women to enhance their business skills which will enable them to increase the businesses' growth potential and sustainability. We will also seek to overcome any barriers they may face along the way."

The scheme intends to improve access to finance and establish support networks through organised events, a mentoring programme, and via the Women Mean Business Wales interactive website.

Confidence-building courses will also be run to get women started on the road to achieving their dreams and the possibility of achieving a better work-life balance.

At the same time the venture looks sets to create 4,300 new jobs and increase the turnover of female-owned businesses by pounds 81m.

Women into

Business in Focus has a track record of providing advice, training and encouragement to businesswomen in Wales. its previous initiative, Women into Business, supported 700 women in the Bridgend and Rhondda Cynon Taf areas and achieved Flagship status from Prowess, the UK association of organizations and individuals who support women starting and growing businesses. There have only ever been three Flagship Status' awarded in Wales to

Hooray for Hollywood

Business in Focus, along with Chwarae Teg, sponsored the premiere of a film celebrating the business achievements of female entrepreneurs in Rhondda Cynon Taf. 'Women into Business - The Story So Far' was screened in front of business women and invited dignitaries on Women's Enterprise Day, November 15, 2006.

Highlighting the accomplishment of the Women into Business initiative, the movie featured just a few of the many successful clients showing female business people that if they have the will and desire to succeed then they can.

The corporate catwalk

The first Women into Business Fashion and Beauty Fayre, held at the Heronston Hotel in December 2006 proved to be a huge success attracting 120 visitors. Women into Business clients were able to promote their companies and network with other like-minded women.

Relax!

One of the more light-hearted business events organised by Women into Business was a massage master class. In light of the shocking facts surrounding work-related stress, Michelle Salter of Rejuvenate was asked to show women business owners how to reduce stress levels in the work place which costs the UK economy nearly pounds 4m every year.

Women into Business adviser Ruth Rowe said: "Although everyone had a wonderful day, the message of the class was serious. If employers can find ways to keep staff uplifted, such as reflexology and massage, then it will save them considerably in the future."

Business in Focus supports Vale Business Women of the Year

THE first ever Vale Woman of the Year Awards took place on March 6, 2008, and praised extraordinary local women for their impact on the community. One category celebrated the Business Woman of the Year, and all three finalists were clients of leading business support company Business in Focus.

Held at the Memorial Hall in Barry and hosted by BBC Wales presenter Jason Mohammad, the Gala Awards celebrated International Women's Day. The categories were: carer, learner, public servant, woman returner, community woman, sports volunteer and young achiever, as well as business woman. Three candidates were shortlisted for each group.

Overall Vale Business Woman of the Year winner Sian Fox and runners up Bee Milbourne and Tiona Williams were recognized for their contribution to the life of the Vale and for the hard work they have put into running their own businesses. All three have received support and advice from Business in Focus.

Chief executive of Business in Focus Gareth Bray said: "Our company has been successfully supporting businesses in Wales for more than 20 years and this latest triumph proves that we are continuing to provide the same outstanding service we always have; better even. "We are proud to have worked with these remarkable business women and will continue to support them."

Tiona Williams runs Hydrofitness with her husband in Barry, Bee Milbourne manages Dove Life Coaching in Cowbridge and Sian Fox runs Foxy's Deli in Penarth.

The big day

One of the much-acclaimed Women into Business events to be run was the wedding fayre in Porthcawl in 2005 which attracted more than 400 visitors. Twenty newly established, female-run businesses from the Rhondda and Bridgend areas displayed their wares for prospective brides and families to see.

From the usual wedding dresses and photographers, to holistic therapists for calming stress levels leading up to the big day, and horse drawn carriages, all welcomed the fantastic opportunity they were given.

Louise Burman of Catherine May Cards said of the event: "The wedding fayre was a huge success with everyone involved doing brisk business. Affordable promotional opportunities for new and emerging businesses are few and far between, so Women into Business organising this event was ideal."

CAPTION(S):

The premiere of Women into Business - The Story So Far; Madeline Moon MP with Ruth Rowe and Women into Business co-ordinator Louise Trowbridge raising awareness of the Women into Business programme of support; (left to right)- Tiona Williams of Hydrofitness, Sion Fox of Foxy's Deli, and Bee Milbourne of Dove Life Coaching, collecting their Vale Business Woman of the Year certificates from presenter Jason Mohammed; Left: A Women into Business group at the Happy Cats Hotel Below; Ruth Rowe and Louise Trowbridge receive the Prowess Flagship Status Award for Women into Business Bottom; Managing stress techniques demonstrated to the Women into Business group
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 28, 2008
Words:1350
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