Liverpool’s The Women’s Organisation now an EU leader for entrepreneurship

European Commission praised the work of the social enterprise, which has supported more than 55,000 in the last 23 years, after it took part in a pioneering international project

Jackie Williams
The Women’s Organisation enterprise director, Jackie Williams


Liverpool-based The Women’s Organisation has been recognised as European leader in assisting people from disadvantaged backgrounds take their first steps towards becoming entrepreneurs.

The European Commission praised the work of the social enterprise, which has supported more than 55,000 in the last 23 years, after it took part in a pioneering international project.

The Women’s Organisation, which operates from its purpose-built headquarters in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle, was the UK representative among five different EU nations developing new ways to help budding entrepreneurs across the continent achieve their ambitions.

The aim of the scheme was to solve two main problems: High unemployment of people, especially from disadvantaged backgrounds; and low participation of adults in life-long learning.

It was decided that the most likely solution was to improve the skills of adult educators working with disadvantaged learners by providing innovative methods to deliver learning activities for prospective business start-ups.

This involved developing training material and ICT (information and communications technology) tools for the adult educators. Using this approach, it would be possible to expand the professional development of the adult educators. This, in turn, would increase employment possibilities of learners on the basis of their lifestyle, abilities and talents.

The target group of learners comprised senior citizens, people living in remote areas, in long-term unemployment, women of social exclusion and low-skilled workers.

The project created a curriculum for adult educators – ‘Promotion of Lifestyle Entrepreneurship for Disadvantaged Learners’ – using specially-developed materials and ICT tools that covered five modules which were used to assess the success of the training for learners.

Courses aimed to improve the learners’ sense of innovation and entrepreneurship, their digital competence, social and civic competence, as well as concentrating on improving their competence in marketing and public relations to enhance the success rate of their start-up business ventures.

They also sought to increase motivation and reduce disparities in learning outcomes of adult learners with fewer opportunities and from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Women's Organisation
The Women’s Organisation has assisted more than 55,000 women in 23 years


The project adapted the good practices from the UK to project partner countries. All project products were translated into five national languages, were tested on adult educators and adult learners, and improved according to the recommendations provided by each project partner.

The Europe-wide project was funded by Erasmus+ – the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport.

Following its conclusion, it was selected as a “success story” by a panel of experts from the Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture of the European Commission.

In a letter to The Women’s Organisation, the panel explained: “Success stories are finalised projects that have distinguished themselves by their impact, contribution to policy-making, innovative results and/or creative approach and can be a source of inspiration for others.”

The Women’s Organisation enterprise director, Jackie Williams, was its key representative on the project. She said: “It was really interesting for us taking part in this programme and seeing that how, no matter which of the five countries people lived in or how diverse their ideas, they tended to face similar challenges.”

She believes that such cross-border collaborations are to the benefit of everyone involved, adding: “Pooling the expertise of organisations from across the EU through Erasmus+ projects such as this means that we can share best practice and ensure our services are evolving in line with client need.”

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