An exciting new venture has been opened today [Thursday 14 February] to help women in Birmingham get in to business.
The Women's Enterprise Hub, a partnership between Birmingham City Council and South and City College, will provide support and training for women who want to enter, or who are already in business.
The hub, opened by Leader of the Council Sir Albert Bore, aims to stimulate the development of new businesses and address the under-representation of women who own their own business. Although the hub is there to support all women, there is a particular focus on helping those from minority ethnic backgrounds including Bangladeshi and Pakistani women.
This phase one of the Women's Enterprise Hub is based at South and City College's Fusion Centre in Digbeth, and provides courses in fashion and clothing alongside business skills aiming to build a high-end women's textile industry in Birmingham. There is also access to a range of partner services including workshops, advice and guidance, and support to pre-start up, start ups and existing businesses looking to develop and grow.
Women will be able to work their way from basic courses in fashion and clothing with English language support, up to higher qualifications in Asian couture – gaining the skills needed to design and create high-end Asian fashion pieces. Business and marketing skills will form a part of the courses enabling the students to take their fashion skills and turn them into an enterprise.
This aspiration was set out by the Leader of the Council's Policy Statement in June 2012. A planning group which included representatives from women in business have been working on the feasibility of the project. Phase two of the Women's Enterprise Hub (subject to funding and location) is expected to open in early 2014 in Sparkhill and will build on phase one.
Sir Albert Bore said: "Improving women's skills and employment opportunities can transform a family's living standards. This enterprise hub is about giving women equal access to economic and productive resources which will really help redress the under-representation of women in business".
Mike Hopkins, Principal of South and City College said: "There is an untapped potential for local Birmingham women to provide high-end Asian clothing for sale, as at the moment most of this comes from abroad. We have therefore worked to create courses that will not only give local women excellent skills in this area, but also the ability to turn these skills into successful business ventures and create a new specialist local industry.
"The new Women's Enterprise Hub based at our Fusion Centre in Digbeth is a brand new, women-only space where those interested in starting their own fashion business can learn from experienced tutors, and receive help and support to realise their ambitions."
Councillor Tahir Ali, Cabinet Member for Development, Jobs and Skills, said; "Supporting women to start their own businesses is a major step forward in addressing unemployment, particularly among young women. I attended a number of workshops in the setting up of this project and have been really impressed with the enthusiasm and vision of those involved. This enterprise hub will help stimulate growth and improve the skills and qualifications of women in Birmingham."