Headlines: August 22nd, 2008

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Women are underrepresented among social enterprise owners. The Government Equalities Office, with the support of Office of the Third Sector have produced a report which highlights the support they need to help groups, such as Pakistani and Bangladeshi women, who are under represented in the workplace and in society, to become more economically independent and participate more fully in communities.

Social enterprise, a form of business with social or environmental objectives, can be a useful tool to alleviate poverty amongst the most marginalised in society and has a role to play in regenerating neighbourhoods and increasing community cohesion. Social enterprise can be a route to fulfilling employment, better incomes and greater independence and has the power to transform the country for the better.

The main barriers to BAME women entering social enterprise include a low awareness of social enterprise, limits on time and family obligations, and securing finance, for example many lack the knowledge to identify potential funding sources or how to apply for and secure funding. There is also a lack of knowledge of business development and finance and expertise about marketing goods and services.

The plan to tackle the barriers for BAME women wanting to set up social enterprise businesses include creating resources to signpost women to key sources of advice and funding, developing a bank of case studies of BAME women social entrepreneurs and identifying ways to disseminate information on social enterprises to BAME women. The Office of the Third Sector will also consider how women’s centres and children’s centres could provide a space for BAME women together to share their experiences and create their own networks.