Digital Inclusion for Women in Business


We all like a shortcut or tools and techniques that make our work a bit easier, or even possible, and digital technology fits the bill in lots of ways.

Useful as digital technology is though, the sheer number of options can be a bit overwhelming and sometimes it’s not enough to know what’s out there, it’s about having the practical know-how to make use of it.

To try to help women entrepreneurs stretch their market reach and make productivity gains we built a programme with Digital Durham. This meant making available to women the digital know-how that would nourish new born businesses and give established businesses an adolescent growth surge.

But why a programme specifically for women? Well, the government is keen to enable women to achieve more efficient homeworking and to strike a better balance between work and caring responsibilities so that women’s rates of economic participation rise closer to men’s, to everyone's benefit.
 
Have women responded? Yes, they have, sometimes in the sort of numbers that have had our venues bursting at the seams.
 
As the programme nears completion we still have a fair amount of evaluation to do but we can already say that the workshop programme we put together with digital strategy expert Di Gates and her fabulous team was a big draw. In a world that can be baffling and intimidating we tried to make it as clear as possible what participants might expect with workshops like;
 
How to get started with social media
How to get found on Google
How to set-up and launch an online shop
How to build a website
How to manage your business with online tools
How to run meetings and workshops online

These were enthusiastically subscribed to following our introductory digital strategy days; one each for new starts and established businesses to find out more about how we could best meet women’s business needs. To make the idea tangible we also showcased success stories where digital technology has made a real difference. After that, everyone joined together to learn and share.
  
We also know that the pick-and-mix approach was really popular: how big a ‘byte’ participants took from our digital menu (and sometimes, from actual cake) was entirely up to individual participants.Some picked the cherries off the top, others indulged themselves. Either way, just about everyone has thrown new online platforms and tools into their business mix – helped by the fact that we got hands on with ‘doing’ and not just planning.

To make the enterprise journey as fruitful as possible we’ve also been providing one-to-one mentoring, signposting to business and technical expertise, and lots of opportunities to network.

The programme will run until the end of March when we’ll complete a full evaluation.

Funded By

Durham County Council Altogether Wealthier