Time to make the global jump? Uni programme helps businesswomen to enter foreign markets

»Redbridge’s women entrepreneurs could soon be taking their businesses to the world through a £1.5million university project.

The University of East London’s Make it Global initiative will give businesswomen access to international businesses networks, entrepreneurship experts and a chance to start trading in international markets, it promises.

It will support 250 female-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in London, which are less likely to be exporting than male-led businesses, according to project director Liz Choonara.

Selena Bolingbroke, the university’s pro-vice-chancellor and the head of its centre of excellence for women’s entrepreneurship, said: “The world is a small place when it comes to business, so it is time for female entrepreneurs in Redbridge to start thinking global.

“Without question, the one thing that has hindered women-led SMEs from exploring this avenue in the past has been the lack of support and specialist advice.”

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Due to run until August 2014, the project is targeted at all sectors, according to Mrs Choonara, from clothing companies to green businesses and consultancies.

It will include workshops and free business support, “something businesses would normally pay quite a bit of money for”, she said.

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And through the university’s links to the European Business and Innovation Centre Network, enterprises can take advantage of a “soft landings” programme, using contacts and offices to set up on the Continent.

It is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Mrs Choonara said: “In Europe, only 30 per cent of SMEs are exporting and the figure among female-run businesses is much less.”

Company leaders signing up to the scheme do not have to make the jump into foreign markets if they don’t feel ready, she said.

Registered trading companies in Redbridge which are interested must be majority female-owned; employ fewer than 250 people and have a turnover of less than £42.7m a year.

Visit www.uel.ac.uk/makeitglobal for more information.

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