Manifesto for Women in Business – Election 2015
Posted: 9th April 2015
aAt the General Election in 2010 WiRE issued a manifesto to help guide the parties in their understanding of what policies and plans would make a difference to women running small businesses. Some of the points have started to be addressed as outlined in the Report on Small Firms by the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Enterprise, Lord Youngwww.gov.uk/government/publications/report-on-small-firms-2010-to-2015-by-lord-young
- Superfast Broadband, whilst not perfect is starting to roll out into more rural areas and there is a clearer timetable which helps businesses to plan. www.gov.uk/gosuperfast
- Public procurement contracts are now more open to small businesses (although still rather complicated and time consuming). www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk
- Single source information and signposting for business supportwww.greatbusiness.gov.uk (plus a helpline which is a great bonus).
- Recognition (in the Young report) of the huge contribution micro businesses make to the local and national economy.
The next administration can help support and grow rural and micro businesses by:
- Introducing an effective Business Mentor Scheme for women in micro business administered by those who understand the sector. Ensuring that mentors have the skills to support women running micro businesses with their specific skills needs (our experience of mentoring is the more “like me” the mentor is, the greater chance of success).
- Extension of the Small Business Charter support on offer via University Business Schools by creating a Rural Business School. To administer funded projects and deliver support specifically tailored for micro rural businesses and in sectors such as tourism, food, craft, creative etc and specifically for women. They are different in their needs to SME’s and should not be expected to engage with programmes which may not be appropriate.
- Continued commitment to improving access to Superfast Broadband in rural areas, with clear timetables for delivery and fair prices for service packages (comparable to those in urban areas).
- A creative approach to supporting those areas where Superfast is unlikely to be available. Including impartial information on available options (satellite, microwave, 4G) and creating drop in Superfast Working Hubs and shared spaces to access superfast broadband during working hours.
- Further recognition of micro businesses by appointing a Micro Business Advocate to: champion micro business, calculate statistics on jobs created and supported, consult prior to compiling policies ensuring they are never detrimental, encourage new business activity and ensure their voice is heard.
- Explore the possibility of an Apprenticeship Scheme for Micro Businesses; an accredited award which covers all aspects and practicalities of running a micro business. This would have the dual positive impact of helping micro businesses to employ people and encouraging young people to start a business and stay in the rural community.