Women’s Enterprise in the Humber (WEiH) was established with initial support from ‘Yorkshire Forward’ in March 2004. They recognised that women who wanted to go into self-employment faced considerable challenges, and government did not have an awareness of their needs, nor the empathy to provide them.
Organising a number of recognised female business advisers to collaborate together, they provided the wide ranging advice, support and experience needed to help women to embark on their chosen career paths of self-employment. Thus, “WEiH” was launched.
“WEiH” took into consideration the fact that a woman may have to do the school run before being able to concentrate on her business, and her working hours would need to be flexible as well, issues male business advisers seemed to neglect.
Looking back, it seems unbelievable that a woman’s role in small business/self employment could be so ad hoc and any advice/support was on the basis of ‘one size fits all’. Thankfully things have changed.
Over three years we helped in the development and start up of more than 400 women-owned businesses, as well as supporting hundreds more. Utilising the talents, experience and flair of the supporting women business advisers, we were able to create an exciting, unique programme of support, as well as a womens’ business network.
In addition, we attended events like the Chamber of Commerce business exhibition, sharing the stand with as many of our new businesses as possible so that they could market their business in a high profile way at a minimum cost. We developed a small business directory which contained details of every business involved in the project, as well as a double page spread in the hull daily mail, wonderful marketing opportunities way beyond the expectations of each little business involved.
When women in business was no longer the flavour of the moment, interest in the group declined.
As so much effort and hard work had been ploughed into the programme, it seemed such a shame to lose it all. Especially as in our geographic area there was little, if any support for women in business available.
Durban limited had been the main partner in the project, and we decided to continue with the networking opportunities we had built up.
Support from Charles Cracknell through Hull Youth Enterprise, provided us with accommodation initially. When this facility was no longer available the ‘Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce’ kindly provided us with the necessary home for the meetings.
The rest, as they say, is history. The group has continued to flourish, especially with the marketing skills of Stella Onyett who has assisted in the recruitment of new members.
As facilitator for so many years I am so pleased the group is now being driven by Stella, Lynn Titcombe and Liz Turpin. In this rapidly moving world of business communication they are able to take ‘Women’s Enterprise in the Humber’ to new heights. This allows me to concentrate on developing women in a totally different way through ‘Celestial Explorers’.
Maureen Foers OBE