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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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North East Woman Entrepreneur Launch

Monday, May 8, 2006

Meg gave the following speech at the launch of the ‘North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year awards 2006’ at a conference held in Durham recently.  For further details visit: http://www.womenintothenetwork.co.uk/page/awards/2006.cfm



Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to be able to join you for the launch of the ‘North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards’ for 2006.


I am especially pleased to support ‘Women into the Network’. Earlier I had the opportunity of meeting and hearing from some of the people who are involved in one of their successful programmes at the Durham Business School.


These awards are an important part of encouraging enterprise both regionally and nationally. However the ‘North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards’ are different from other award programmes. They honour, not just business women who have achieved significant success, but women who have broken down barriers and overcome challenges - such as financial constraints, social disadvantage or skills and knowledge gaps.  


Once individual women develop confidence, begin to believe in themselves as business people it is surprising what can be achieved. Having confidence in oneself is an important first step toward shaping your own future. As Alice Walker, the author of the Colour Purple, said “the most common way people give up their power is by thinking that they don’t have any”.


Regional Pilots

In order to help provide opportunities for women to gain confidence, gain the necessary skills, we have to work at both government and regional level. The role of the regions in this area is hugely important. 


Over the next year, Regional Development Agencies from five regions will be piloting ‘Women's Enterprise Units’. These units will try-out different approaches in supporting the start-up and growth of female-owned businesses.


You will, I’m sure, be pleased to know that the North East is one of the winning regions.  One North East will be building upon what has already been done to ensure mainstream business support meets the needs of women. They will be examining and identifying where the need for targeted support is, and working with partners to deliver it.


The potential for the development of women entrepreneurs is huge and largely untapped. We have to encourage young girls and women to be confident that they can take an idea into the market-place - to become more enterprising and entrepreneurial.


I don’t want to let anyone think that women are not already involved in business. Women-owned businesses contribute about £60 billion to Gross Value Added; about 25% of the UK total, mainly from the growing service sector. But we need to further encourage women’s enterprise.


Women into the Network’, and other organisations, help us better understand the issues that prevent women from successfully starting and growing their business. They also help identify solutions that will allow barriers to be broken down.


As you know, one of the best ways when starting a business is to learn how others started theirs. To hear about the challenges they faced, and learn from their successes. 


We can learn from young women like Daniele Bainbridge, who was named young entrepreneur and best newcomer at the North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in 2005. Daniele’s 1st Fix Company provides labour for the construction industry, and she now lists a number of well-known names such as Amec, and the Wolsley Group as her clients.


I encourage everyone here, and women entrepreneurs throughout the North East, to put forward their nominations. You never know, you could be one of the business successes at the awards ceremony in November. By showcasing your achievements these awards provide role models that can encourage and motivate more women into entrepreneurship.


Women’s enterprise is a vital part of the North East economy, an area with significant potential for growth.  I am looking forward to hearing about the success stories from the Awards ceremony in November; an occasion that I’m sure will be inspirational.


I hope that you enjoy the rest of the afternoon.


Thank you.

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