More than half of entrepreneurs helped to set up a business by the GC Business Growth Hub over the past year were female, encouraging new figures have revealed.

The data has been released ahead of International Women’s Day (March 8) by the Hub, which supports ambitious Greater Manchester-based small and medium sized businesses with their growth plans.

Their analysis shows that 56 per cent of entrepreneurs setting up a new business in the region and turning to the Hub for support were female.

From April 2020 to February 2021, a total of 193 women received specialist expertise and advice from the Hub compared to 150 men starting up businesses.

The research suggests that the number of female entrepreneurs is high in the region and compares favourably with the national picture.

The Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship[1], released in March 2019, found that only one in three UK entrepreneurs is female.

And national figures from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitoring Consortium[2], show that from 2019 to 2020 only seven per cent of women were involved in entrepreneurial activity.

The Greater Manchester figures have been welcomed by the Hub, which is part of The Growth Company and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Janine Smith, Head of Specialist Services at GC Business Growth Hub, said: “We have some amazing women across our region making a huge contribution to our SME business sector.

“It’s reassuring that the number of female entrepreneurs starting and scaling up businesses in our region is high.

“We are committed to continuing to level up the playing field. The Hub helps female entrepreneurs to come together, share advice, and forge connections.

“One of the best parts of my job is meeting extraordinary women who are using our services to build and grow their businesses.”

International Women’s Day is a global day, which started in 1911 to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

One female entrepreneur who has been supported by the Hub since 2018 is Belinda Yu, from Manchester, whose wicker bags are stocked by Net-a-porter and Selfridges.

She created Wicker Wings in 2015 with her brother James in honour of their grandmother, Yue Yao Li, who made handwoven wicker baskets in her native China before moving to England in 1990.

Belinda said: “We created Wicker Wings because we wanted to shine a light on our grandmother’s past in a more contemporary way.

“The Hub is an incredible organisation to work with, they have really helped us with lean manufacturing. To have this help on your doorstep is amazing.

“Our grandmother is 79 now and still heavily involved in the business. She comes to the studio and helps with production.”

The year’s International Women’s Day theme is ‘Choose to Challenge’, and Belinda said that the way she tackles challenges is down to her inspirational mother, who moved here 38 years ago from China.

She added: “If there’s a challenge in front of me, I will tackle it head on and fix it and that is down to my mum. She is my biggest inspiration and the most hard-working person I know.

“My advice to women starting out in business is stick at it – you will have so many ups and downs but it will be worth it.”

Janine added: “We want to shine a light on ambitious, successful women like Belinda and to inspire even more women to come to us for support.

“Our team is here to help with practical advice about how to set up and lead a business and we will support you every step of the way.”


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