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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Cheshire businesswomen given £75,000 boost to help them grab benefits of new digital technologies

 

Businesswomen in Cheshire have been given a £75,000 boost to help them take advantage of the latest digital technologies.

Connecting Cheshire, a partnership bringing fibre broadband to Cheshire, has been granted £75,000 from the Government to help women in business across the county learn how to exploit the benefits of faster broadband and digital technology.

Nicky Morgan MP, the Minister for Women, announced Connecting Cheshire was among the successful projects to be awarded funding as part of the Women and Broadband Challenge Fund.

The fund was recently established to help female entrepreneurs and women-led businesses to take advantage of the UK’s broadband infrastructure in order to work more effectively, access new markets and grow business online. A package of specialist support and events will be provided to help Cheshire businesses as part of the project.

Connecting Cheshire, a partnership between BT and Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East, Halton and Warrington councils, which is bringing fibre broadband to 96 per cent of homes and businesses by the end of 2015, was awarded the maximum amount of funding.

Women-led businesses now make up 20 per cent of all small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK and the fund aims to help more female-led businesses take advantage of superfast broadband to transform the way they do business or to set up a new business from home.

Working with its partners and organisations across the county, Connecting Cheshire plans to focus on female entrepreneurs in rural and semi-rural areas, that will benefit from the Connecting Cheshire fibre broadband roll-out, as well as female-led businesses in the retail, creative industries and the visitor economy sectors, to ensure they can get the most of the opportunities that digital technology and faster broadband offers.

Councillor David Brown, Deputy Leader of Cheshire East Council, on behalf of the Connecting Cheshire Partnership said: “Fibre broadband and digital technology can offer real improvements and cost savings to businesses.

“We want female entrepreneurs and businesswomen in Cheshire to take advantage of this opportunity and see how they can make the most of new technology to improve the profitability of their businesses and help create new jobs across the Borough.”

Clare Hayward, chair of Make it Macclesfield, said, “We’re living in a digital age and women everywhere can particularly benefit from the power of increased connectivity. In the community and in the business world, the increasing desire for better work/life balance and for greater control over how, when and where we work is often driven by women, this support will help to make this happen for more women across Cheshire.”

Sara Pomfret of SPBS Ltd and Chester Women’s Network in partnership with Ellis & Co Accountants and Business Advisers and Nat West, said: “Whether it be for those businesses needing basic help to get their business on line for the first time or to assist those who already have an online presence, this is an excellent opportunity for women in the Cheshire area to take advantage of a programme which can truly help them work more efficiently and empower them to effectively grow their businesses online.”

Nicky Morgan MP said: “This fund will give women the practical help needed to get their businesses on-line and take advantage of superfast broadband. This will include online mentors, business clubs and training courses so that women all over the country can benefit from the kind of help Campus for Mums is giving.”

In the North West, there is lower than average female self-employment at just five per cent, compared to 6.2 per cent for England (Source: ONS Annual Population Survey 2013, supplied by NOMIS June 2014) and participation rates in the Connecting Cheshire Business Support Programme events has demonstrated that female-owned businesses attending are in the minority.

The project is expected to start in September 2014 and run for six months.

Information around Connecting Cheshire is available at www.connectingcheshire.org.uk. To find out more about the Connecting Cheshire Superfast Business Programme, visit www.ccbusiness.co.uk

For enquiries about this news release please contact the Connecting Cheshire Media Relations Team on 01270 686577 or email:
communications@cheshireeast.gov.uk

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