BUSINESS SECRETARY Vince Cable has appointed a former womens’ prison chief to help champion female entrepreneurs.
Liberal Democrat MP Lorely Burt will help women-led businesses to understand the help available to their new and growing firms.
She started her career in the prison service and rose to become assistant governor at HMP Holloway, a tough female-only prison in North London.
Ms Burt later worked for companies including Beecham and Europcar in the field of personnel and training before setting up her own training company.
Mr Cable said: “Lorely will bring a wealth of experience to this role, having worked in and started up her own business.
“She is not only a role model for other female entrepreneurs, but will be an ambassador for the support currently available to ambitious women-led firms.
“Female-led businesses currently make up 20 per cent of small and medium sized businesses, and it’s important when women consider starting their own businesses they know more about the support and help on offer, and the opportunities available.”
Ms Burt will be tasked with raising awareness of Government support for new and growing businesses, the sources and types of business finance and public sector contracts.
She will also be charged with generating more female entries for the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. Ms Burt will report on her achievements and insights in the autumn.
Ms Burt said: “Just 20 per cent of British businesses are owned and controlled by women. This is a shocking waste of entrepreneurial talent that should be enriching customers, businesses and our economy generally.
“My job will be to investigate the true picture of women’s enterprise in Britain and how Government can encourage existing and would-be entrepreneurs reach their full potential - I can’t wait.”
Ms Burt entered Parliament in 2005 and has served as party spokeswoman on Northern Ireland and was a member of the influential Treasury Select Committee. She stood for the deputy leadership of the Lib Dems earlier this year, but lost out to Sir Malcolm Bruce.
According to the Government, female self-employment has seen four times the rate of growth as male self-employment over the last six years.
The number of women in self-employment has increased 29 per cent since 2008; the increase in self-employed men was only seven per cent over the same period, but female-led businesses are less likely to take risks to grow, figures suggest.