Wales

More help urged for women in business by FSB

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Media captionHelen Walbey describes how she got into business

Business leaders have called for more support to encourage women to set up and grow their own firms.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has launched a report in Cardiff highlighting the potential benefits to the economy of increasing the number of women entrepreneurs.

It urges more UK and Welsh Government support and better access to finance.

A separate survey also highlights issues such as lack of confidence and work-life balance.

The FSB wants to improve diversity when public contracts are being awarded and more female role models.

It also wants the Welsh Government to establish a Small Business Administration which would include a section aimed at helping women overcome barriers.

The organisation also calls for the UK government to change maternity pay which it says disadvantages the self-employed.

The number of self-employed women in the UK has risen by 40% between 2008 and 2016.

'Male-dominated'

Women now account for almost a third of all self-employed workers according to Office for National Statistics figures.

Helen Walbey, chair of the FSB's UK-wide diversity panel, runs a motorcycle scrap yard and parts business in Aberdare, Rhondda Cynon Taff.

She says working in a male-dominated industry has driven her to support other women starting out in business.

Ms Walbey will be officially launching the report at an event in Cardiff Bay sponsored by the Deputy Presiding Officer Ann Jones.

It sets out research showing that women-led businesses face many of the same challenges all small firms encounter - including cash flow issues (42%), and difficulty accessing finance (25%).

But other challenges were more acute for women business owners, after a survey of 2,000 of them across the UK.

These included balancing work and family life (40%), achieving credibility for the business (37%) and a lack of confidence (22%).

Ms Walbey said: "If women were to set up businesses and grow them at the same rate as men, we would see a huge boost to growth and prosperity in this country.

"In fact, the UK Government estimates it could add £600 billion to the economy."

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