RESILIENT Lancashire businesswomen have helped to limit the economic devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic with the help of a council initiative specifically aimed at female leaders.

So far, seven businesses have worked with Lancashire County Council’s Two Zero Female programme to avoid redundancies, win government contracts, and secure growth funding.

Firms to benefit include Chorley’s Fresh Perspective Resourcing whose director Laura Leyland says the scheme has positioned the firm for sustainable growth for years to come and environmental consultancy Crowberry Consulting, also of Chorley.

Managing director Becky Toal said: “The programme encouraged us to scrutinise our growth ambitions for the coming years and develop a high-quality plan to reach them. It also helped us to fully understand the types of external funding that a scaling businesses can access, and the confidence and mindset to secure them.”

She added: “The plan from here is to grow, grow, grow.

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“We will be looking to recruit before the end of the year and we are also considering accessing venture capital funding in future.”

The programme began in early 2020 and was delivered by Groundswell Innovation and Northern Power Women.

It was originally dedicated to giving female leaders the tools to continue to scale up quickly but shifted its focus as Lancashire was hit by the effects of lockdown.

Other businesses to have engaged with the programme included Blackburn-based pie manufacturer Pie Mezzanae and Accrington-based Education Business Partnership North West, Brilliant Trees Media, Flavourfresh Salads and Hotfoot Design.

Thanks to their, efforts the women working across these companies have been hailed as inspirational by council leaders.

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Two Zero programme manager Amin Vepari said: “The resilience these companies have shown and their commitment to long-term growth plans despite the huge short-term challenges is an inspiration to all Lancashire businesses.

“We believe giving fast-growing Lancashire businesses the tools to realise their ambitions benefits the whole county and these companies have proven this through their dedication to retaining, and even looking to grow their staff base to allow them to capitalise on new markets during a difficult period.

This success is especially important when it comes to redressing persistent gender imbalances at the top of the business world.

Mr Vepari said: “Figures show that female-led businesses struggle to access growth funding opportunities and the fact all of these businesses are now actively assessing external funding options is a testament to the success of Groundswell Innovation, Northern Power Women and the Two Zero Female programme.”

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