THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

02 July 2019

New partnership for female entrepreneurs with Make It Your Business

The Business & IP Centre and non-profit organisation, Make It Your Business, have partnered to support female entrepreneurs across the UK. The new partnership will include a roadshow of talks and networking events for female entrepreneurs in UK libraries, including those part of our National Network. These curated talks will draw on the Network’s alumni of successful female entrepreneurs and ambassadors.

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Make It Your Business event

The Business & IP Centre has a strong history of supporting entrepreneurs from all walks of life and across our service nationwide, over 60% of our users are women, compared to 20% of UK business owners.

Isabel Oswell, Head of Business Audiences at the British Library explains, “Since we opened the Business & IP Centre over a decade ago, we’ve seen consistently high numbers of women from all walks of life using our resources and expertise to launch successful businesses.

“As we work with public libraries to scale up and open more services throughout the UK, we’re struck time and time again by the trust entrepreneurs place in these buildings – they truly are safe spaces for people to voice their concerns, take informed risks and grow their ideas.

“We’re delighted to partner with Make It Your Business to carry on our work championing any woman with a business idea.”

The topic of breaking down barriers to female entrepreneurs and supporting their business journey has been more prominent recently, with the publishing of the Alison Rose Review (2019). This review was carried out to look at ways of reducing the disparity between male and female entrepreneurs and “unlock the potential that exists within the UK economy”. The benefits to businesses who have the greatest gender diversity on their executive teams are notable, with those companies being 21% more likely to outperform peers on profitability. An additional £250 billion of new value could be added to the UK economy if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as their male counterparts.

One of the main opportunities identified as part of this report was to make entrepreneurship more accessible for women, through local support and relatable and accessible mentors and networks. The Business & IP Centre’s record of supporting women in business, throughout our National Network, highlights the importance of libraries in democratising business, providing a supportive, welcoming and open environment. Working with Make It Your Business creates even more opportunities for female entrepreneurs, as Alison Cork, founder of Make It Your Business agrees, “this UK wide initiative to encourage women to start their own business works because we are building strong local networking groups that give women the vital moral and practical support they need. As someone who is an entrepreneur, I have a particular interest in helping to foster enterprise and support women who want to take that first step into owning a business. If you are thinking of starting a business, or already run one, being part of a local support network can be hugely beneficial”.

As part of the Alison Rose Review, the main barriers to female entrepreneurs were explored, including funding concerns, family responsibilities and lack of accessibility, with 55% stating the fear of going it alone as the main reason for not starting a business. Women are 8% less likely to know an entrepreneur, compared to males, which impacted on their prospects of scaling their business. Within the Business & IP Centre, we have also seen this trend with our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, as since 2012, only 45% of businesses who have taken part are women-led, which may be due to women’s perception that they do not belong in the entrepreneurial world. 

Alison Cork adds, “It is so encouraging to hear the enthusiastic and upbeat feedback from women who have attended our events and then decided to take the first step into entrepreneurship. We want women all over the UK to have that opportunity.”

As part of our new partnership, Business & IP Centre users receive complimentary lifetime membership to Make It Your Business. Membership entitles you to attend any of their networking events, use their business mentoring service and also advertise your product or service in their business directory, all free of charge. To redeem your membership, email FREE MEMBERSHIP to hello@makeityourbusiness.co.uk.

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Make It Your Business event

The Libraries Roadshow with Make It Your Business began in June at Business & IP Centre Birmingham. Additional dates in other locations will be announced soon.