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Real leadership can deliver £7.08bn to our economy

  • Written by Roseann Kelly, CEO, Women in Business NI

    Roseann Kelly, the chief executive of Women in Business NI discusses the UK’s gender gap in entrepreneurship and how closing it can benefit the nation in more ways than one.

    In September past, the HM Treasury launched a review into barriers for women in business which has become known as ‘The Rose Report’, and while it reported that the UK is one of the best places in the world to grow a business, it also found that women are half as likely as men to be involved in starting one.

    The review found that only one in three entrepreneurs are women and that closing the gender gap could add an additional £250 billion in Gross Value Add to the UK economy, equivalent to 4 years of economic growth. Northern Ireland’s potential share of this is £7.08 billion!

    The same review found the five key barriers that lead to lower rates of entrepreneurship amongst women are: low access and awareness of capital; greater risk awareness; perceived missing skills & experience; disproportionate primary care responsibilities and; a lack of relatable sponsorship, mentorship and role models.

    At Women in Business we understand the need to tackle these five obstacles and keep female enterprise at the top of the agenda. Last year on International Women’s Day, we launched the new three-year programme, ‘Yes You Can’ supported by Invest NI and the 11 councils, aimed to assist female entrepreneurs in breaking down these barriers.

    We are excited and energised to support these, our wonderful entrepreneurs who are talented, skilled and have so much to offer our economy - £7.08 billion to be precise. However, the findings from ‘The Rose Report’ and the need to implement real, tangible change compound the need for strong leadership in business, and in Northern Ireland.

    When considering exceptional leaders today, it is important to recognise New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as a great example of strong leadership. This 39 year-old politician has already had a remarkable impact on world politics proving she's a true leader for modern times.

    The youngest female Prime Minister New Zealand has ever had, and only the second world leader to have given birth while in office, she represents something entirely new in world leaders. She embodies the best attributes of optimism, common sense, approachability and, most of all, empathy.

    In her debut speech to the United Nations Assembly, she reflected that, for true progression for all, “MeToo must become We Too” and she demonstrated her wise and worldly views, asking for global cooperation and kindness from all leaders present which was met with thunderous applause.

    Her actions in the wake of the tragic events in New Zealand last year clearly indicate that their applause was well warranted. Through her kindness and inclusivity, she has shown that not only is she deeply empathetic, but she is strong and decisive – and can lead in times of chaos and tragedy.

    This is the type of leadership we all need and deserve, including here in Northern Ireland. We need leadership which strives to implement the initiatives set out by the Rose Report.

    This article first appeared in the Women in Tech special edition of the Sync NI magazine. You can download a FREE copy here.

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