The three partnerships successfully bid for funding from Broadband Delivery UK and the Government Equalities Office.
Women in Rural Enterprise (WiRE) will continue to deliver the project, which will operate across the Shropshire Council, Staffordshire County Council and Telford & Wrekin Council areas.
As part of the Budget, the Chancellor announced a further £1.1 million to help women take full advantage of all the opportunities that superfast broadband can bring to business – and recently the government announced the 16 successful local broadband projects across England which will deliver the scheme
Minister for Women, Equalities and Family Justice Caroline Dinenage said:
“The government is doing more than ever before to ensure that women have equality in the workplace. I am delighted to hear that the Shropshire, Staffordshire and Telford & Wrekin areas have been awarded funding, so more female entrepreneurs can take advantage of superfast broadband.
“If women set up businesses at the same rate as men there would be 1 million more female entrepreneurs – I hope that this fund helps women in the area take their first step in to the business world.”
Tina Woodward, Shropshire Council deputy cabinet member for broadband, said:
“I am very pleased that the bid for further funding for the Women and Broadband project has been successful.
“Monitoring during Phase 1 showed that at their first workshop, 70% of women believed they lacked the skills and self-confidence to use broadband technologies for business, which only highlights the importance of its continued delivery. We have strong partners to carry on delivering the service with experience in the field and it’s encouraging that WiRE will continue to deliver the project.”
Shaun Davies, Telford & Wrekin Council cabinet member for Customer Services, said:
“I’m really pleased that the bid has been successful in securing further funding for the Women and Broadband project.
“We’re keen to enable women to start-up a business, or to grow and improve an existing business by embracing digital and cloud technology, capitalising on the opportunities offered by faster broadband.
“In Telford and Wrekin we have just launched our plans for Superfast Broadband for the next two years which will see at least 98% of the Borough have access to Superfast.
“This project is essential to giving women the opportunity to access Superfast Broadband and will help to stimulate demand for the services offered.”
Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council’s economy leader, said:
“It is important that everyone can utilise broadband to make the most of the opportunities available to them, whether this is for business, education or leisure.
“The Women and Broadband project has had a real impact and so we’re pleased to see it continuing with this additional funding. We have many women entrepreneurs in Staffordshire, but would welcome more. In addition, we want to see improved skills and for people to optimise the connectivity broadband brings so this project is timely as it complements the roll-out of our Superfast Staffordshire programme.”
Phase 1 of the project helped women develop their skills and confidence in using broadband technologies. Clare Rowson, who attended some of the Women and Broadband courses during Phase 1, said:
“I certainly benefitted from the social media workshops but for me the most useful was the video course. I have already been able to put this into use and have made videos for my clients. But the project was also great for giving women the opportunity to come together and network – to meet others in similar situations.”
Phase 2 will look to broaden the projects reach to give more women the digital skills to enable to use faster broadband technologies, to develop a network of peers, mentors and experts to provide ongoing support, continual improvement and further business opportunities.
To learn more about the Women and Broadband project, visit http://www.wirechallenge.org/