Carol Vorderman Internet Column: Women Wide Web; GLENDA SETS HER SITES ON FEMAILS
Gerrie, Anthea, The Mirror (London, England)
AUSTRALIAN Glenda Stone's mission in life is to introduce all women to her best friend - the internet.
The 34-year-old believes the net is the only way to keep everyone, from freelance workers to mums keen to earn cash from home, in touch with each other.
But when she settled in Britain, the former teacher was horrified at the lack of support or guidance provided.
And she was so determined to do something about it that she set up www.busy girl.co.uk
The site's motto clearly states Glenda's ambition of increasing the number, growth and success of women-owned businesses online.
Glenda, who has a Masters in Women And The Interent, says: "I didn't stop to raise money - I did it all on a shoestring, using my savings, designing my own site after taking classes and relying on word of mouth for promotion.
"I linked up with partners who were so keen to tap into the female entrepreneurs waiting in the wings, they were glad to provide freebies to get access to them."
Her latest sponsor, Hewlett Packard, is currently giving away free computers as door prizes at busygirl's monthly champagne forums.
But the most exciting offering of all is the free website training courtesy of busygirl partner New Horizons.
Topics range from website design to just finding your way round the internet. The courses, which normally cost around pounds 200 and last a full day, are run in several major cities and come with a back-up helpline.
"When we asked women what they wanted, the first thing they asked for was training," says Glenda.
She believes girls should not shy away from breaking into a world traditionally dominated by men and is keen to show women how to go about it. "Women are creative, innovative and willing to share and help each other; they're bound to go out and win," she explains. Glenda has also persuaded PricewaterhouseCoopers, management consultants who act as 'incubators' to nurture promising new online businesses, to ply busygirl members with champagne and canapes once a month.
At these evening get-togethers, women can mix with high rollers, meet dotcom businesses or just link up with other women excited by what they can get out of the web.
Lisa Welch is a huge fan of the forums which cost just pounds 19.99 and she happily admits they have transformed her life.
She works in pensions but thanks to Glenda she is now so enthusiastic about the net, she is planning an online venture as a sideline.
She says: "My friend Angela and I have registered a name for a site that will tell what's available in our area.
"At one of the forums I met someone who had done something similar; we've kept in touch by email and I'm sure I will be able to benefit from her experience."
Lisa has just completed a Frontpage 2000 website training course to help her design a personal site.
She says: "The classes are small enough and the helpline and chance of a free refresher give you the confidence that you can build a decent site."
Busygirl makes no bones about its ambition to get more women making money online and it's definitely aimed at career girls. But if you're a young mum keen to get back to work then www.flametree.co.uk is the site for you.
Flametree was set up by Jayne Buxton and Rosemary Leith who both went part-time in order to raise a family.
The pair are now keen to encourage other mums to work flexi-time so that they too can earn some money while bringing up the kids.
Jayne says she saw the need for a networking system after writing a book calling for a fairer deal for working parents. …