Market Accents is supporting the UK Economic Blueprint in the UK and is a TeamEB Marketing Lead and also participates in the Access to Markets workstream.

October 2016, London UK. Pink Shoe, together with the Enterprise Research Centre (ERC),  organised the third International Female Quotient Forum (#FQ3) at The Shard in central London on Wednesday 26 October 2016. This well-attended event provided the ideal forum to advance the discussion for opportunities for women-owned businesses (WBs) in a complex and post-Brexit economy with representatives from the City, corporate, public sector and professional industries.

The key conversation during #FQ3 was focused on how to harness female talent to drive economic growth, reinforcing Prime Minister Theresa May’s vision on the contribution of women-owned businesses in the UK today. Facts such as “only 20% of SMEs are WBs” from a UK population where “51% is female” set the scene for the forum agenda.

Helene Martin Gee, Founder and President of Pink Shoe, welcomed guests present and introduced Caroline Dinenge, the Minister for Women and Equalities, who opened the forum with a keynote speech that emphasized the importance of opportunities and support. She talked about the challenges faced by female entrepreneurs and WBs, and the fact that there are now more women-led businesses than ever before.  She said that WBs currently inject around £115 billion to the UK economy. Furthermore, Britain has been ranked as the best place in Europe for female entrepreneurs.

Having set the direction, the programme continued with an update on the UK Economic Blueprint (EB) by Jill Pay, Chairman of Pink Shoe Senate. Professor Stephen Roper of Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) spoke next, saying that the ERC warmly welcomed the initiative and endorsed their ongoing strong support for the UK EB. His speech was followed by presentations, national and international case studies and panel discussions on opportunities arising from beyond the UK shores, including the Commonwealth and importance of the global export market, especially in the light of a post-Brexit economy. Panel speakers included Lord Jonathan Marland, Jennifer Bisceglie and Joanna Santinon, with chair Maggie Semple OBE, and Deb Leary OBE, Christine Hamilton and Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne with Chair Melanie Eusebe.

Helen Walbey, Federation of Small Business (FSB) UK-wide Diversity Chair highlighted findings from the FSB’s recent report on women and enterprise, noting that most of the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs and SME business owners – such as cash flow and access to finance – were similar. However, women-led businesses also experienced additional issues which were more gender-specific.  These included balancing work and family life (40%), achieving credibility for the business (37%) and a lack of confidence (22%).

This same national snapshot was confirmed by Dr Karen Bonner from ERC, who gave an update on the latest research on SMEs. Insights from national statistics indicate that the UK female rate of early-stage entrepreneurship is around half the male rate – a picture shared with most high income economies,  with the exception of the US where it is two thirds of the male rate.  In addition, entrepreneurs’ growth ambition is strongly linked to subsequent performance.  There are differing ambitions for males and females, and the results indicate that women prefer flexibility to growth.

The closing remarks were given by Craig Tracey MP, Chairman of All Party Parliamentary Group on Women and Enterprise,  who said that the findings and trends, including the case studies and various panel discussions were very significant and were sending a strong message to government about the importance of women-led businesses. He told the audience present , “It was a privilege to be asked to speak at this event and to support the promotion of better gender equality for women in enterprise.”

This third forum was a milestone in a 5-year programme that will see the development of the first-ever UK Economic Blueprint for women-owned businesses. It followed on from last year’s successful #FQ2 forum which marked the launch of the Economic Blueprint and the Ten Point Plan underpinning its delivery. Since then, Team EB with seven supporting work streams has defined the vision, mission and scope of the overall programme, as well as the individual work stream plans which will bring this innovative and unique platform to fruition.

As Jill Pay explained, “#FQ3 is an important milestone in our overall strategy and plans. We are now in Day One of Year Two. We are breaking down barriers and opening up opportunities for WBs using advocacy and influence to seek policy and economic solutions to improve opportunities for WBs while developing technological and collaborative platforms to underpin the EB.  The EB digital platform will be an independent, inclusive, first port of call for advice, information, support, training, mentors, case studies and innovative tools that will help women to start and scale up their businesses. Over the next year we will seek sponsorship in three areas: the design, creation and development of the EB digital platform,  a programme of road shows to take the EB around the UK and a programme manager to ensure progress and quality outcomes. ”

Helene Martin Gee concluded, “Today, the UK Economic Blueprint is more than just a concept. In the last year, we have defined and developed the project framework that will deliver the Economic Blueprint and digital platform and the seven work streams are all engaged in developing plans to bring it to fruition. Following #FQ3, we are stepping up the momentum.”

Helene continued, “The Blueprint has strong support from Ministers, MPs and Peers and via the All Party Parliamentary Group for Women and Enterprise and other leading All Party groups. We are also forming strong partnerships with corporates, business owners and national organisations to reach the largest possible number of WBs. Today we read out comments from Lady Barbara Judge CBE, Chairman of the Institute of Directors, who said that it is vital that women’s voices are heard right across business. Lady Judge was encouraged and added  that the work we are doing on the first UK EB for Women will help to support and encourage more women into business and entrepreneurship, and that can only be a good thing for the whole economy.  As we have said since the beginning of our journey, we will continue to use advocacy and influence to seek policy and economic solutions to improve opportunities for WBs, and with the assistance of our international and UK partners and supporters, we are confident that we can achieve our goals.”


About Pink Shoe

Pink Shoe is an influential and innovative business network that works to positively impact life-long development of women.  Its founder is Helene Martin Gee.  Patrons are The Rt. Hon Theresa May  MP and Tessa Sanderson CBE.  The Pink Shoe Senate, which drives development and strategy, is chaired by Jill Pay.

Established in 2007 in London, Pink Shoe creates initiatives across the UK to advance talented women at all levels.  Members are an eclectic mix of high-ranking professionals encompassing government, industry, academia, entrepreneurship, public service and third sectors.  Its special focus on entrepreneurship includes working in partnership with key Parliamentary groups to generate a range of vibrant and interactive events connecting prominent and emerging entrepreneurs, and young people of all backgrounds with Parliament.  Alongside this Pink Shoe creates unique programmes to encourage more women and under-represented people to enter public life.


About WIPP

Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) in the US was founded in 2001 (see It is non-partisan and now represents 4.7m women in business and has 78 partnering organisations. Creating a definitive Economic Blueprint for Women:

WIPP International’s mission is to build powerful collaborative networks among leading women-led organisations to leverage their joint power to negotiate for policy and economic solutions to enable women to achieve economic independence and participate fully in their country’s economic growth.

WIPP International identified the UK as the first country to develop the Economic Blueprint globally and has chosen Pink Shoe as its delivery partner.

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