Praise as Liverpool backs women’s enterprise campaign

Social enterprise The Women’s Organisation is helping to spearhead a push to accelerate the growth of women in business and now Liverpool City Council is backing the project. Tony McDonough reports

Maggie O'Carroll
Maggie O’Carroll, chief executive of The Women’s Organisation


Business leader Maggie O’Carroll has praised the “strong leadership” of Liverpool City Council after it backed a major campaign to accelerate the growth of women entrepreneurs.

Ms O’Carroll is chief executive of  award-winning Liverpool social enterprise, The Women’s Organisation. It is a leading player in the Women’s Enterprise Policy Group (WEPG) and its campaign to support women’s enterprise.

In the summer, WEPG published Framework of Policy Actions to Build Back Better for Women’s Enterprise, a report which outlines a major push to address the gaps in COVID-19 enterprise support for women.

Now Liverpool City Council has thrown its weight behind the project. In particular councillors Joanne Anderson, Sarah Doyle, Jane Corbett and Gary Millar, as well as chief executive, Tony Reeves, have helped push the issue high on the agenda.

Ms O’Carroll, who is also co-chair of the WEPG, said: “As businesses and entrepreneurs navigate their way through the current crisis and start to look towards recovery, it is absolutely essential that Liverpool’s leaders pave the way and put a focus on economic equality.

“This is important to ensure each and every citizen in the city has the opportunity to benefit through the recovery period and beyond. I welcome Liverpool City Council’s support and strong leadership in ensuring that women who are looking to start or grow their own enterprises in the city are given all the support that they need.”

The WEPG is a national coalition of leading women entrepreneurs, researchers, business support providers and social entrepreneurs from across the UK. The group develops policy calls based on the latest evidence and years of experience supporting women’s enterprise creation and growth.

The Women’s Organisation has supported more than 70,000 women from diverse communities across the city region to take a more active role in social and economic life and has helped create more than 4,000 businesses since its inception in 1996. It is also the lead agency for the city region’s Enterprise Hub project.

The WEPG report identified six key policy areas that are critical to the campaign. They are:

  • Income protection – Extending the COVID-19 Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to 750,000 new and part-time traders, dressing maternity discrimination on SEISS payments and offering support for directors who are paid in dividends.
  • Grants, loans and investment – Ensuring Small Business Grant Funds reflect the nature of women-led businesses and monitoring of gender bias.
  • Valuing women-led sectors – Provide support for sectors in which women-led purpose driven businesses are concentrated such as beauty and wellbeing.
  • Business support – Ensuring that support is women-focused and serves the needs to BAME communities.
  • Start-ups – Activity supporting women’s purpose-driven business start-ups and ensure public sector commissioning values the social value created in women-led enterprises
  • Invest in a care infrastructure – Investing in care would stimulate 2.7 times more jobs than equivalent spend on construction and would create 6.3 times more jobs for women and 10% more for men.
Councillor Joanne Anderson
Cllr Joanne Anderson, who represents Princes Park


A motion supporting the report was heard at the city council’s employment and skills committee and passed unopposed. Cllr Joanne Anderson, who represents Princes Park, added: “As elected members of Liverpool City Council we are delighted that the motion to support women’s business locally and nationally passed unopposed.

“Women’s business will be a key ingredient to the city’s and country’s economic recovery and I feel reassured that our chief executive, Tony Reeves, will work tirelessly to ensure that every woman who wants to start or grow her business in the city will get the support she needs.”

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