Women’s Organisation comes of age and celebrates inspiring more than 50,000 entrepreneurs

Liverpool-based social enterprise operates from its St James Street hub where it provides incubator space for more than 200 budding entrepreneurs. Tony McDonough reports.

The team at the Liverpool-based The Women's Organisation
The team at the Liverpool-based The Women’s Organisation

More than 50,000 woman have created or improved their businesses with the help of The Women’s Organisation in Liverpool.

The Baltic Triangle-based social enterprise has released the figure as it celebrates 21 years of empowering women across Merseyside and beyond.

Current chief executive Maggie O’Carroll set-up the organisation as Train 2000 in 1996.

The venture now operates from its own £5.3m purpose-built hub in St James Street, which also provides incubator space for more than 200 budding entrepreneurs.

Maggie said: “From personal development, to starting and growing a sustainable business, our core focus is to make an impact on the lives of women and communities – locally, nationally and internationally.

“At this milestone of 21 years we have worked tirelessly to challenge and change the underrepresentation of female-owned businesses and we are proud of the impact we have had on the Liverpool city region.

“We have engaged with more than 50,000 women, enabling them to make positive changes in their lives, which directly impact themselves, those around them and the economy as a whole through the creation of new businesses and jobs.”

Maggie recalls that when she moved to Liverpool unemployment levels among women were “shocking”

She added: “There was next to no childcare provision locally and women were definitely not being taken seriously as potential entrepreneurs.

Just two years after Train 2000 was launched it was recognised internationally for best practice in enterprise services with a Eurocities award.

Having established a national framework for female entrepreneurship in the UK, the organisation was then invited to support the government in Slovenia to build a Social Enterprise Strategy.

The Women’s Organisation has continued to work with local, national and international partners to develop support models to enable women to become business owners.

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

Most recently it celebrated its latest mission to China, where Alison Price and Lisa McMullan, principal consultants for the organisation’s Enterprise Evolution programme, delivered workshops in entrepreneurial teaching techniques to more than 125 teachers.

Nearer home, over the past 21 years The Women’s Organisation has:

  • Offered advice and support to more than 50,000 women around enterprise and employment
  • Provided intensive enterprise support to more than 15,000 women
  • Helped to establish in excess of 3,000 new businesses

And, with an eye to future success, the organisation is helping to deliver a new funding model, The Enterprise Hub, which aims to assist more than 6,000 people who are considering setting up their own business during a three year period to November 2018.

Launched last June, it has already created more than 200 small businesses across the Liverpool City Region, leading to around 300 new jobs.

It is estimated that the initiative could create up to 1,200 new businesses throughout the region.

Maggie said: “This demonstrates that there is still a wealth of untapped entrepreneurial potential in the Liverpool city region, and we will continue working hard to ensure we maximise the opportunity to support individuals to enhance their business skills and create further sustainable enterprises.”

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