South Yorkshire secures government funding to support female entrepreneurs

14 July 2015

A new government fund aimed at supporting female entrepreneurs has been secured by the Superfast South Yorkshire programme.

The money is one of 16 Women Broadband Challenge Fund awards being announced today by Nicky Morgan, Minister for Women and Equalities.

Click South Yorkshire will provide £67,000 to support women from across South Yorkshire to utilise superfast broadband to expand or develop their businesses.

The funding builds on existing provision in the area, through Enterprising Barnsley’s Click e-commerce accelerator programme, which has already seen 12 innovative business people, half of which are female, receive intensive support to grow and create jobs.

The Women and Broadband programme has been funded by the Government Equalities Office to help women start or grow their own business by getting them online and making new technology work for them. It will focus on female digital entrepreneurs and will include workshops, seminars and one to one support as well as networking events.

Natalie Ward, Broadband Programme Manager for Superfast South Yorkshire, said: “The scheme will offer women, who are able to access superfast broadband, the opportunity to maximise the business benefits available, whilst gaining digital skills through the use of new technology.

“This is an exciting opportunity for South Yorkshire women who are looking to start a business.”

The Click South Yorkshire programme aims to support up to 100 women, living in the Superfast South Yorkshire broadband rollout areas, to develop, build and deliver an e-commerce business idea to the point where they are actively selling online.

It is led by Tracey Johnson and delivered through a partnership between Barnsley Council’s business growth team Enterprising Barnsley; Barnsley Digital Media Centre (DMC) and UK business start-up experts Enterprise Nation.

Tracey Johnson of Enterprising Barnsley and Barnsley Digital Media Centre said: “We are absolutely delighted with this announcement. The new funding will help us to develop digital skills within our communities, giving women the tools they need to build a successful business that fits their interests and lifestyle.”

The programme will be offered through online learning; face to face drop in sessions at accessible local venues across the region and the DMC; and via workshops seminars and networks led by successful local female business owners and ecommerce specialists.

Through the funding, the Digital Media Centre will also develop a Click Together network for women in digital business.

Click Together will be made up of women at different stages of their digital business journey. It will provide peer support and engagement beyond the life of the funding programme and will connect with the existing Click ecommerce hub at the Digital Media Centre in Barnsley.

Emma Jones, founder of fast-growth small business network Enterprise Nation who will deliver Click South Yorkshire said: "Research has shown that women often need specific help to get their enterprises off the ground and then to grow.

“Yet despite a rapid growth in female entrepreneurship, they are still less likely to be accepted for finance or seek out that vital support. This new initiative will target women and help them to build digital skills to understand how they can use technology to help their businesses thrive."

Ecommerce is already recognised as being an effective way to build an online business, often using well-known consumer sites such as e-bay. Click South Yorkshire will focus on highlighting the potential of selling products and services online as a business model across all types of business.

All participants in the one to one programme will receive a personalised package of business mentoring and support. They will also receive membership of Enterprise Nation for a year and access to their online and offline support.

For more information about the Click South Yorkshire programme, which runs from September 2015 to April 2016, contact Tracey Johnson, Digital Media Centre Project Manager on 01226 720 700.

Notes to editor

The Women and Broadband Challenge Fund - The second round of the Government Equality Office’s Women and Broadband Challenge Fund releases an additional £1.1 million of resource funding across the UK to provide a programme to help women boost their economic wellbeing by taking full advantage of superfast broadband to either start a business or work from home. Government Equalities Office (GEO) are working in partnership with Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) to deliver this project. The Superfast broadband programme provides an opportunity for women-led businesses and potential female entrepreneurs to take advantage of faster broadband to expand or set up new businesses. It will enable more efficient homeworking and a better balance to be struck between work and caring responsibilities, providing an opportunity to equalise men’s and women’s economic participation rates and to expand the UK’s labour capacity. The rollout of superfast broadband provides a great opportunity for more women to return to the workforce by taking advantage of teleworking or by setting up a business.

Superfast South Yorkshire - In September 2014, South Yorkshire joined forces with BT in a multi-million pound deal to extend the availability of high-speed, fibre broadband to around 98 per cent of homes and businesses. The Superfast South Yorkshire project is costing £22 million, funded jointly by BT, Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and South Yorkshire partners. South Yorkshire partners are the four local authorities of Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster. A significant measure of the programme’s success will be driving awareness of the benefits offered by fibre broadband and adoption of this high-speed broadband technology. The project aims to make fibre broadband available to more than 103,000 homes and businesses across South Yorkshire. For more information go to www.superfastsouthyorkshire.co.uk

Enterprise Nation is a small business network and business support provider with more than 60,000 members. Its aim is to help people turn their good ideas into great businesses – through expert advice, events, acceleration, networking and inspiring books. It has taken on the leadership of the Festival of Female Entrepreneurs (FFE) which takes place in Bristol in October and will see 800 delegates offered the chance to learn how they can take on staff, increase trade, access advice and expand into new markets as well as developing their business confidence. Enterprise Nation was founded in 2005 by Emma Jones MBE also co-founder of national enterprise campaign StartUp Britain. She is author of best-selling business books including Spare Room Startup, Working 5 to 9, Go Global and the StartUp Kit. Membership costs £30 www.enterprisenation.com/join

Enterprising Barnsley, which funded the original Click programme, is supported financially by the European Union and has attracted £3,015,276 investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme. The Enterprising Barnsley programme is part financed by the Yorkshire and Humber European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit www.gov.uk/browse/business/funding-debt/european-regional-development-funding

The Digital Media Centre is a hub for the creative and digital industries in the centre of Barnsley. It delivers events and support for businesses in the sector as well as providing workspace and an ecommerce hub. The DMC is owned and managed by Barnsley Council.

For information about Enterprising Barnsley and the Digital Media Centre go to www.enterprisingbarnsley.co.uk or contact Tracey Johnson on 01226 720700 or at dmc@barnsley.gov.uk

Additional media contact: Sally Brown on 01226 766900 or 07950 870864 or at sally@capitalbmedia.co.uk

This press release was prepared by Capital B Media, a public relations and media training agency based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. For more details about our PR services, please visit www.capitalbmedia.co.uk

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