Press release

Government funds new speed mentoring events for female entrepreneurs to nurture talent across the nation

Nicky Morgan announces £50,000 of new funding to create new networking opportunities for women in business from Glasgow to London

Aspiring businesswomen are being given the unique opportunity to gain valuable wisdom and support from experienced female entrepreneurs at a new series of networking events.

The Meet a Mentor sessions are designed to introduce businesswomen to potential advisers through speed mentoring, as well as giving them the opportunity to network with their peers and learn about other business support. Experienced entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to share their hard-earned wisdom and help nurture emerging business talent.

This year’s programme of events, run by the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs (IOEE), follows the huge success of last year’s events, which saw over 800 people register.

More than four-fifths of attendees formed a mentoring relationship, and it is estimated this could lead to about 5000 hours of mentoring time.

Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, said:

“Women now run 20 per cent of our SMEs – a total of 1 million businesses – and we want to support even more to showcase their talent through entrepreneurship.

“We know many women still feel less confident in their business skills than men. Mentoring can bring huge benefits by boosting confidence and building know-how and that’s why I am delighted to announce new funding for these excellent events today.”

The events will kick off in Newcastle on 22 September, with further events taking place in London, Birmingham, Leeds and Glasgow.

The Scotland Office Minister Andrew Dunlop is marking the announcement with a visit to Glasgow today, where he is meeting Alex Feechan, who has benefited from mentoring in her cycling clothing business, Findra.

The government has also recruited over 15,000 small business mentors under the ‘Get Mentoring’ project, 42 per cent of whom were women. Mentoring forms part of a package of government support for female entrepreneurs, including an online tool to help female entrepreneurs assess their business skills and find training and support to fill any gaps.

Women play a vital role in the British economy and equalising women’s productivity and employment to the same levels as men’s could add almost £600 billion to our economy. This could clear a third of our national debt.

Ruth Lowbridge, Executive Chair of the UK Sector Skills Body for Enterprise (SFEDI) and the IOEE said:

“Every day we help business owners source mentoring support through our events, programmes and online business community, and it is evident to us that this form of support is absolutely critical in boosting confidence and enabling women owned businesses to achieve their potential.

“Following the success of the last Meet a Mentor events, which supported over 500 women led businesses, we’re hugely excited about our five new events, which will make a real difference to the start-up and success rates of those businesswomen attending.”

Nichola English runs The Wardrobe Provocateur, a Newcastle based business providing style and life coaching. She attended a previous Meet a Mentor event in the city, and succeeded in finding valuable mentoring support:

“I went along to the Meet a Mentor event in February. I wanted to meet somebody who had been in business, who could steer me in the right direction, give me some support and help me stay motivated. Sometimes it’s very hard on your own. That’s where I met my mentor. She helped me set out my business objectives and get myself out there, market myself more and not be afraid to show people who I am and what I do.”

Businesswomen seeking mentors and those wanting to share their knowledge and experience can sign up for the events free of charge at www.ioee.eventbrite.co.uk.

Note to editors:

  1. Events will take place on the following dates:
    • Newcastle - 22 September 2015
    • London - 5 October 2015
    • Birmingham - 9 November 2015
    • Leeds - 3 December 2015
    • Glasgow - 13 January 2016
  2. The Government Equalities Office (GEO) is responsible for equality strategy and legislation across government. It works to take action on the government’s commitment to remove barriers to equality and help to build a fairer society, leading on issues relating to women, sexual orientation and transgender equality. More information can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/government-equalities-office

  3. The Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs (IOEE) is the first learning institute dedicated to developing and recognising the skills of enterprising people. It supports enterprise professionals in developing their skills and knowledge to a high standard to provide outstanding enterprise support. For more information, contact sarah.trouten@ioee.co.uk.

  4. The new programme of Meet A Mentor events is receiving £50,000 of funding from GEO. This follows £150,000 of funding given by GEO for twelve similar events across the UK from November 2014 to March 2015. The events build on the success of the government’s ‘Get Mentoring’ project, delivered by the UK Sector Skills Body for Enterprise (SFEDI), which successfully recruited and trained over 15,000 volunteers from the small business community, including over 6,000 mentors who were trained to specifically support female entrepreneurs.

  5. The Skills Toolkit is an online self-assessment tool to help female entrepreneurs assess their business knowledge and experience, and find training and support to fill any gaps. It was developed by Enterprise Nation with funding from GEO and can be found at https://www.enterprisenation.com/skills

  6. GEO has previously funded events in each of these cities. Please contact GEO Press Office for details of case studies of local businesswomen involved.