The second Savvitas Business and Parliament Forum on women’s entrepreneurship  took place on  March 22nd and was again skilfully chaired by Mark Hart, ERC, Aston Business School  with Helene Martin Gee and Sue Lawton MBE.   The topic this time was Productivity, exploring the UK’s productivity gap, whether this is wider for women entrepreneurs, and if so, why?

Alongside the perennial issues of access to finance, childcare, and embedding entrepreneurship into the curriculum, we considered the higher levels of productivity in other nations and what drives this. Investment in skills and training was agreed to be key, and we know the UK currently spends less per capita than France or Germany, for example. So Britain needs to invest more in business skills training, especially in technology. Likewise for the over 50s, as attracting them back to the workplace will drive up productivity. We look forward to seeing how the recently announced ‘returnerships’ fare. Local or regional support would be welcome, if not essential, and there is promising progress with libraries acting as enterprise hubs, based on the excellent work of the British Library. However, information on what’s available is patchy. Better communication and signposting will increase access to training and enable skills development, which in turn would improve productivity.

In attendance were Seema Malhotra MP, Stephen Hammond MP and Baroness Verma, as well as representatives from Goldman Sachs, NatWest, British Business Bank, Silicon Valley Bank, The Gender Index, World Business Women and three serial women entrepreneurs. The meeting discussion led to almost as many questions as answers and the group look forward to discovering outcomes of ongoing research led by Professor Hart over the coming months.