Noreen Cesareo, Co-chair of the International Trade and Connections sub-group within the All Party Parliamentry Group (APPG) for Women and Enterprise is proud to be a contributor to the first report ‘The Future of Female Entrepreneurship: Pathways to Progress’ issued by the group which includes recommendations to Government and Industry.
The report was launched at Westminster on July 16 2019.
The APPG report establishes the current experience faced by female entrepreneurs, and sees the potential growth of women-owned businesses as an area of economic opportunity for the UK. They already contribute an impressive £115 billion to the economy, despite the fact that they currently secure significantly less than 5% of corporate and public sector contracts.
This first report focuses on three major issues identified as facing female entrepreneurs:
- Access to Finance
- Business Support, Coaching and Mentoring
- International Trade and Connections
The International Trade and Connections group conducted extensive research, interviews and study over three years. Among our list of recommendations in this field to Government and Industry, we highlight the following:
Role Models for Exporting
Our findings highlight the lack of visible role models from among women-owned businesses that are exporting internationally. There is also a gap in the number of trained official advisors from government, NGOs or private organisations specifically appointed to advise on international trade and support women-business owners get to international markets.
Seen from an international trading perspective, UK women-owned businesses in particular face different issues to their male counterparts, due to differences in cultural norms which can create barriers in access. There were many anecdotal examples of where this has happened particularly during negotiations or when discussing specific detail within areas of expertise which was particularly visible in fields such as logistics, construction, which have historically been male-dominated and run.
Setting Standards Internationally
Currently there are countries in the Commonwealth and North America that are ensuring women-owned businesses have a foothold in international markets. By working with them and seeking to set international standards, the UK will be regarded as one of the drivers in this field, which has the potential to open doors for women-owned businesses to extend their markets.
There are many instances where this can take place through existing channels, such as the cross-Government initiative “Exporting is Great” campaign and organisations that promote UK companies such as Made in Britain (manufacturing), Chamber of Commerce and Institute Of Directors. The UK has always been regarded as one of the leading countries in international trade, and such campaigns will continue to emphasise this message and create openings into new markets.
A lack of gender disaggregated data was also a recurring theme throughout our inquiry which has the consequence of restricting the ability to create effective forward strategies.
The full report can be downloaded here.
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