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Seeda Chief Executive Champions Women’s Enterprise at Prime Ministerial Seminar

15 January 2008

SEEDA supports new scheme for accrediting women-led businesses.

South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) Chief Executive, Pam Alexander, as co-Chair of the national Women’s Enterprise Task Force (WETF) and lead Regional Development Agency (RDA) for Enterprise has today met the Rt Hon. Gordon Brown, at No 10 Downing Street for a round table discussion about support for the growth and development of enterprise in the UK. The meeting was attended by the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), the Rt. Hon John Hutton, MP, twenty entrepreneurs, WETF members and advisers.

At the meeting, Ms Alexander highlighted a new scheme being set up by Prowess called WEConnect. SEEDA, on behalf of the WETF, is investing £28,000 in the WEConnect pilot, which is a newly formed national certifying body for women-owned businesses. It will encourage supplier diversity by accrediting procurement-ready women-owned businesses so that large companies are able to contract with them confidently, in the knowledge that the due diligence has been done for them. Ten women-owned businesses are expected to go through the WEConnect accreditation process by the end of March 2008.

WEConnect is managed in the UK by Prowess and is based on a successful US model. Several major corporates including Pfizer, Microsoft, Bank of America and Accenture are already supporting the initiative. To find out more visit

Today’s high level discussion forms part of BERR’s consultation for a new Government ‘Framework for Enterprise’. RDAs are working alongside BERR to develop ideas for this new framework.

Pam Alexander said: "Any vibrant economy needs a strong enterprise culture in which women’s businesses grow and flourish, creating jobs and wealth. Having the same proportion of women-led enterprises as the USA would mean 700,000 more UK businesses.

"Innovative businesses need access to contracts in order to grow. WEConnect, which promotes new routes to procurement opportunities is one of the Women’s Enterprise Task Force’s five key areas for action. We hope these will be backed in the new ‘Framework for Enterprise’. The other four are gender disaggregated data; quality, women-friendly business support; access to finance; and visibility for the importance of this agenda to economic growth.

"A key challenge for the Women’s Enterprise Task Force is to encourage more women to expand their businesses, addressing their different approaches to managing risk and valuing reward and the strong wish for access to a continuum of support and peer-led mentoring along the way. The Business Support Simplification Programme must improve the visibility, clarity and focus of business support whilst allowing sufficient flexibility to meet different needs according to locality, sector and business life-cycle as well as gender."

Ms Alexander also highlighted the importance to female entrepreneurs of routes to adequate capitalisation, participation in high growth sectors and in international trade, as key elements for the ‘Framework for Enterprise'.

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