Enterprise: Female Entrepreneurs Are on the Rise -Report

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Byline: Martin Faint

Female entrepreneurship is on the rise but significant barriers to entry remain, according to a hefty national report that highlighted two Warwickshire businesswomen as examples of the UK's most inspiring female entrepreneurs.

The British Chambers of Commerce study revealed that for every ten male entrepreneurs in the UK there are just four females -a gap that is wider than Canada, the US, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy.

But among those who have succeeded are Midland entrepreneurs Suzanne Linton and Sally Carrick -whose stories were among ten case studies highlighted in the survey.

Both are typical in showing verve and resourcefulness to set up thriving businesses.

Suzanne, a former accountant in search of more flexibility to raise children, and her husband started Freestyle New Media -their marketing business -from home in 1996 using their own savings.

As word of mouth spread, the firm's client list grew. Freestyle now employs 54 people at their premises in rural Warwickshire, and boasts a consistent and growing client base that includes global brand icons like Jaguar, Land Rover and EA Games.

Freestyle recently took 22nd position in Marketing Magazine's Top 100 Digital Agencies 2003 report, in part helped by child-friendly policies.

Meanwhile, Sally's business -Carrick Travel -celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, with five agency offices, including a specialist division, which deals with business travel, conference organisation, and sports event management.

Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Louise Beard said: 'It is fantastic for aspiring young businesswomen in this area to have strong positive role models -women like Suzanne and Sally who have shown that huge success can be achieved with the right attitude and lots of hard work.

'The numbers of women going into business for themselves is increasing all the time and there is a myriad of support services available. However, as the report shows, there are still improvements to be made, such as the availability of financing, and this is something we can all work on in the future. …