Women’s business centre represents UK Best Practice

PWEC is one of only two specialist business centres in the UK for female entrepreneurs and aspiring businesswomen, offering a supportive, inclusive and informal environment for women to develop their enterprise ideas, skills and new business ventures.

Responsible for the delivery of PWEC is specialist business support and economic development agency, YTKO – the driving force behind which is CEO Bev Hurley, who was recently awarded with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion. Also the Founder of Enterprising Women, Bev was invited as keynote speaker to present PWEC and its supporting Flagship Enterprising Women community to an influential audience of stakeholders, including MPs and policymakers.

Bev Hurley presenting at Scottish Parliament

On PWEC’s selection for best practice, Bev commented: “PWEC’s success is largely attributable to its innovative holistic business model, which tailors support for women at all stages of the enterprise journey, from pre-aspirational to high growth. Crucially, our all-inclusive approach ensures that there is a continuum of support, with seamless linkages to mainstream services.

“This is all possible because we believe in working in partnership with organisations across the private and public support landscape, so that clients receive a wide range of services and advice. Firmly embedded within the PWEC infrastructure, partnership working has also helped to leverage the public funding, further extending its reach.”

In light of WINNET 8’s aspirational standards and benchmarks for innovation and inclusion, PWEC’s recent accolade is a testament to the successful working partnership between YTKO and its funding partners Peterborough County Council and EEDA [East of England Development Agency.

Leader of Peterborough City Council, councillor Marco Cereste, said: “This achievement demonstrates the excellent work done at PWEC in helping city women realise their business dreams. The centre is an innovative facility and has proved to be an excellent asset for Peterborough, providing a welcome boost to our economy. Well done to everyone involved.”

Providing women-specific skills development and workshops completely free of charge, PWEC has experienced significant demand for its services since its doors opened to the public just six months ago, with interest increasing as word spreads about what’s on offer for local women.

Felicity Kemp is just one of many women whose experience of PWEC provides compelling evidence for the need for greater support for women in business across the UK.

Felicity Kemp has a background in B2B telemarketing, and became a top performer early on in her career. Spotting a niche market, Felicity was inspired to set up Talk Results, and with help from PWEC she founded Talk Networking less than a month later.

“When I first heard about PWEC, I was well on the way to setting up my first business, but I decided to take a step back and attend the Business Start-up course anyway. It really opened my eyes to a lot of things, and made me realise how much I needed to do!

“The Business Growth course was also really helpful. Not only did it give me sound advice, it also provided inspiration: I looked at the women around me, some of whom were turning over what seemed like fantastic sums of money, and thought, ‘I could be like you!’”

Felicity’s advice to other women is to take any support on offer. “Women need support – it’s a tough world out there, and even the toughest women get knockbacks. Having the support of a large organisation that wants you to succeed is invaluable.”

PWEC has assisted over 500 women since its launch in January 2010, helped to create 22 businesses, and supported 130 businesses via skills development and training. The Centre has also provided over 300 business advice sessions, and helped over 165 people to get a job.

The PWEC programme is delivered by YTKO and further supported by the [national] Enterprising Women community. Peterborough City Council (PCC) and East of England Development Agency have provided funding for the renovation of the city centre premises and for the Centre’s services, as part of a wider goal to promote economic participation in the region. This initiative builds on EEDA’s sustained support for women’s enterprise over the past five years, and Peterborough County Council’s visionary and ambitious goals for the economic development of the city.

WINNET 8 is a partnership of 8 member states working towards gender equality as a force for economic growth, of which women’s entrepreneurship is a key focus. Hazel Smith, a representative of WINNET 8 from Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, remarked: “Women’s participation in enterprise is less than half of men’s and PWEC goes some way to redressing this imbalance and supporting economic growth. We need one in every town and city across the UK.

“My visit to PWEC was inspiring. Its programmes, approach, ethics and the centre itself all contribute to raising women’s aspirations and supporting them into employment and enterprise. The level of professionalism and commitment that underpins the work is excellent.”

–Ends—

Notes to editors

To interview Bev Hurley, or case study Felicity Kemp, please contact Mina Nazemi on 01223 421477 or 07786 384912, or e-mail mina@ytko.com

About EEDA

The East of England Development Agency (EEDA) is the driving force behind sustainable economic regeneration in the East of England: Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. EEDA’s vision is for the East of England to be an ideas-driven region that is internationally competitive and harnesses the talent of all. For further information visit www.eeda.org.uk

About Peterborough City Council

Peterborough City Council, a unitary authority since 1998, provides a full range of local government services for a population of 180,000.  It has set ambitious, employment-led and sustainable growth targets. The city council is actively working to encourage business growth at all levels and is a strong supporter of efforts to increase educational attainment of local people so that the city has a highly skilled workforce. Peterborough City Council, along with its partners in the public, private and voluntary sectors, is fully committed to building a bigger, better Peterborough.

About Peterborough Women’s Enterprise Centre (PWEC)

Located at the heart of Peterborough, the business centre supports all levels of entrepreneurship, and offers a whole range of free services including advice on starting up a new business, training, business support services, information about accessing finance and lots of networking activities.

About YTKO

Headquartered in Cambridge, YTKO is an award-winning economic development and business support agency with over 30 years of experience in serving both the public and private sectors. Our client focus and strong delivery has also earned YTKO international recognition in the public sector, and several best practice awards including the prestigious Prowess ‘Flagship of Flagships’ Award, for excellence in women’s enterprise support for all of our services in all locations, as well as the endorsement of Enterprising Women by the Department of Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) as one of three national best practice examples of support for entrepreneurship. More information can be found at www.ytko.com

About WINNET 8

Comprised of 8 member states working towards gender equality, WINNET 8 is represented in the UK by the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce. Established to profile best practice and inform European funding policy, as well as policy at the national level, the Interreg-funded project will help to transfer initiatives like PWEC as examples of good practice across the WINNET 8 group, whose members include Sweden, the UK, Portugal, Poland, Greece, Finland, Italy and Bulgaria.