Lack of ‘business spaces’ holding back female entrepreneurs, Mersey business leader says

Maggie O’Carroll, CEO of Liverpool-based The Women’s Organisation, said changes were necessary to  ‘buck the trend’ of low start-up rates among women. Tony McDonough reports

Maggie O’Carroll
Maggie O’Carroll, chief executive of Liverpool-based The Women’s Organisation


There needs to be more “dedicated spaces” for women in business to address the low rates of female-led start-ups, a Merseyside business leader says.

Speaking ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, Maggie O’Carroll, chief executive of Liverpool-based The Women’s Organisation, said changes were necessary to  “buck the trend in the male-dominated landscape”.

A global study by the Unilever Foundry  into start up diversity has shown that only 17% of start-ups are founded by women. And has found that the typical business owner on Companies House in the UK is 51, British and male.

Since its foundation more than 20 years ago, The Baltic Triangle-based Women’s Organisation, has helped empower more than 50,000 women to start or accelerate their businesses and offers business space for entrepreneurs at its St James Street headquarters.

It has found there is a growing need for more office spaces for women in the business community. Ms O’Carroll said: “For many women the prospect of taking their young start-up into the physical business world can be exceptionally daunting.

“This next step in taking on office space requires an incredible level of conviction and assurance – not to mention monetary resources. That’s why spaces such as 54 St James Street are essential to creating safe and supportive networks, where women can feel empowered and access further support to succeed in business.

“Another fundamental barrier many female-led start-ups face as they begin their journey is the fact that they are working from home. The experience of many of our service-users is that this only serves to compound a common issue for women who typically find themselves as primary caregivers.

“This prevents them from making a clear distinction between home life and working life, often reducing their capacity to focus on their business.”

Since opening its doors in 2011, 54 St James Street has helped to create over 1,000 new businesses and created over 2,000 new jobs in the Liverpool city region through the work of The Women’s Organisation and the Enterprise Hub programme which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Cllr Gary Millar, Deputy Mayor of Liverpool & Cabinet Member for Business Economy & Skills, added: “Enabling female participation in the local economy is critical to addressing the gender imbalance we see in business and that’s exactly what facilities like 54 St James Street are doing by providing the support and space needed to succeed in business.

54 St James Street
54 St James Street, headquarters of The Women’s Organisation


“To be among a group of like-minded entrepreneurs is important to any business person to feel inspired and supported. Without these spaces, we risk leaving behind a pool of un-tapped female potential and talent which would otherwise be a significant contributor to driving the economy on a local and national level.”

Tenants at 54 St James Street can testify to the value of the dedicated space. Kate Morris, director of Every Cloud Associates, said: “As women, I believe that we already have a natural and shared ability to network. We are relation-seeking beings with an emotional empathy like no other. 54 St James Street offers the perfect incubation space for this to take hold and flourish.

“The peer to peer support, working alongside other passionate, female entrepreneurs who are trying to do their ‘thing’ better is a key benefit of this community. It’s hugely empowering for women to see other women lead and achieve, grow and develop. It’s like a ‘rising tide’, we bring each other on.”

For more information about the facilities available for female-led businesses at 54 St James Street and how you can become part of the community, visit

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