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Jamie Hardesty

Facebook to work with 50,000 UK women in 2018 as part of female leadership drive

After exceeding its target of training 10,000 would-be female entrepreneurs in 2017, Facebook has today revealed plans to engage and educate 50,000 women across the UK next year.

In partnership with Enterprise Nation, Facebook’s #SheMeansBusiness programme aims to tackle female leadership barriers by delivering training, events and online courses to give more women across the UK the tools, support and practical advice they need to grow their businesses.

In 2018 Facebook will continue to work with Enterprise Nation and will call on the 10,000 women to ‘pass on’ their experiences, acting as role models to share their knowledge with other female business owners.

It will also run monthly nationwide Clinics to act as a regular meeting point for women to network and gain support from one of #SheMeansBusiness mentors within Enterprise Nation’s marketplace.

Tackling the confidence curve

One in ten UK women now want to set up a business, but a ‘confidence curve’ between the ages of 25-39 could be holding the most likely candidates back, according to new research commissioned by Facebook for its #SheMeansBusiness programme.

While one in five women at this life stage say that they’d like to set up a business - twice the national average - just 64% feel confident in their ability to do so. This compares to 81% of women aged 40-54 and 68% of women in their late teens and early twenties.

Tackling the confidence curve could be big news for the UK economy. If just one in five women who wanted to start their own business did so, they could create 425,000 UK jobs by the end of 2020 - adding a possible £10.1bn to the UK economy, according to a separate study for Facebook by Development Economics.

More relatable role models

Relatable role models could be key to tacking the confidence curve, according to the research.

Eight out of ten (83%) would-be female entrepreneurs say having a relatable role model would inspire them to start a business.

This is most significantly felt amongst the 25-39 year-old group. Despite this, only a third (34%) can currently think of a business role model that inspires them.

Relatable circumstances and characteristics are seen as far more important in a business role model than someone with celebrity status. In fact, the top factors women look for in a relatable role model include:

  • Someone in the same sector as the business they’d like to set up (49%)
  • Someone who has overcome challenges or failures (44%)
  • Someone who was in similar financial circumstances when they started their business (37%)
  • By contrast, well-known or celebrity role models appeal to just 8% of women

Nicola Mendelsohn, VP EMEA at Facebook said: “To empower women to achieve both their personal business ambitions and make a difference to the UK economy we need to address the pressing need for more relatable female leaders.

“#SheMeansBusiness aims to do that by creating opportunities for would-be entrepreneurs to meet and learn from others who are relatable to them.

“We’re proud that the programme has already made a difference to more than 10,000 women in 2017 alone.

“In 2018 our ambition is to help thousands more, while offering opportunities for them to come together as a community to share the confidence and skills they need to succeed.”

Emma Jones, MBE, founder of small business support group Enterprise Nation, added: “There is a direct correlation between training and good outcomes in business. That’s why we’ve been so pleased to work with Facebook to deliver digital skills workshops to more than 10,000 women over the last ten months - and will continue to do so in 2018.

“It’s true, we are seeing more and more women starting businesses today and there’s never been a better time to start-up.

“But it’s also true that if we are going to make further progress addressing the female confidence curve, we must to continue to offer accessible and practical support, whilst shining a spotlight on the work of resilient self-starters who have overcome not just life hurdles, but solved problems and felt financial pain along the way to find success.

“This new report shows that in reality, the illusion of the well-connected female celebrity entrepreneur simply does not wash. If women are going to run with this start-up opportunity, they are going to need to hear about women who are like them, that they can relate to and aspire to be like.”

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