Hazel Duhy is a self employed business woman based near Wigton who is passionate about supporting women in business and has enormous drive and enthusiasm to ensure our Cumbrian business women have a voice.

In recognition of her work as a Sparks Women’s Enterprise Ambassador for the North West Development Agency (NWDA), Hazel has been elected to the Board of the Northwest Women’s Enterprise Forum (NWWEF) to represent Cumbria and micro businesses in the North West.

The NWWEF was established in 2004 by the NWDA to increase and develop the number of female start up businesses in the region. It helps tackle the issues at the heart of the women’s enterprise and is the key policy advisory and strategic body for Women’s Enterprise in the Northwest.

Speaking as the newest Forum member, Hazel said “The aim of the Forum is to empower and enable business women to make an equal contribution to economic prosperity of the region. Over one million women in the UK work for themselves and women-owned enterprises contribute approximately £70 billion to the national economy. We want to ensure women have the same access to business and financial support provided to businessmen, as well as the chance to develop their skills and self confidence. At any one time in the UK there are said to be 160,000 women dreaming of running their own business - I would like to think that in my various roles, I can help support a few in Cumbria to follow their dream as I have.”

Hazel always wanted to run her own business and moved here in 2002 with the idea to do just that. It took several years before the opportunity arose and she launched Web Work@Woodrow offering administration support and graphic design services. Work spiralled, the company rebranded as ‘Woodrow Services’ and now supports a wide range of businesses from start-ups to multinationals in Cumbria and abroad. Woodrow Services now employs part-time staff.

“Purely built on networking and word of mouth, my business has benefitted from very supportive women in business. I joined the Rural Women’s Network (www.ruralwomen.org) very early on and have seen how Cumbrian business women have grown in confidence and ability as a result of support from fellow female entrepreneurs. I now help run The Network of Enterprising Women in Solway (NEWS) based at Wigton (www.biz-news.org.uk) and run the Ripple Effect which gathers and disseminates information to help and support Cumbrian businesses – the power of networking is amazing, and it’s very satisfying to help other businesses.”

Last year, Margaret Hodge Minister of State for Industry and the Regions announced the creation of a 1000 strong national network of inspirational women entrepreneurs, supported by the NWDA. Hazel was an obvious candidate and became one of the 140 representatives in the North West. Sadly, there are only seven Ambassadors in Cumbria, but with her new position on the NWWEF it is only a matter of time until there are many more!

Tracey Errington from Market Sense is co-ordinator for the Penrith Women in Business Network group, she highlighted that “Hazel is one of the county’s most valued assets in promoting female entrepreneurship. She is establishing links with Young Enterprise, The Princes Trust and local schools to encourage and inspire young women - after all, self employment was never a lesson we were taught at school! Her new role on the board of NWWEF just means Hazel is working even harder to motivate Cumbrian females to be the best in business.

Steven Broomhead, NWDA Chief Executive, said: “Women are drastically under-represented in the business world, both in terms of occupying top jobs and when it comes to owning and operating their own businesses. We are hoping that with a little support and encouragement we can really get women thinking about enterprise and address the business gender imbalance Anyone looking to join a business network for support or interested in helping develop women in enterprise should contact Hazel Duhy, member of NWWEF on 016973 44905 or email her at hazel@woodrowservices.co.uk ---ENDS --- For more information or high resolution pictures contact Tracey Errington on 07799 640 290 or email tracey@marketsense.net Alternatively speak directly to Hazel Duhy on 016973 44905 or email hazel@woodrowservices.co.uk Picture: Hazel Duhy, member of the North West Women in Enterprise Forum Notes to the Editor: In the Northwest region alone female early stage entrepreneurial activity between 2002 and 2007 has increased from 1.5% to 3.4%.34% of the newly self-employed are women compared to 27% of those currently self-employed.

There is still considerable room for improvement, despite the rise in the numbers of women involved in enterprise activity in recent years, only 14 per cent of businesses with employees are led by women, with two men starting up in business to every one woman. Tackling this gender disparity will not only improve the number of women setting up their own businesses which has been identified as a key way to increase the size and scope of the small business sector in the UK but will also be a major contributing factor to the future economic growth of region.

The Government’s enterprise strategy released in March 2008 highlights the importance of engaging more women in enterprise and it sets out several initiatives to encourage more female entrepreneurial activity in the UK. The Northwest’s Regional Economic Strategy (RES) also identifies women as a group with different business support needs, and with huge potential to increase the number of new enterprises in the region. This will be emphasised in the NWDA’s Regional Enterprise Strategy which is due for release in 2008.

Visit the Northwest Women’s Enterprise Forum (NWWEF) to find out more.

Women's Ambassador Campaign In July 2007 the NWDA launched the Northwest region's Women's Ambassadors Campaign. It aims to promote a culture of women’s enterprise whether by starting a business or social enterprise, or by making an innovative idea happen at work and is an inspirational and ambitious campaign, backed by a coalition of business, charities, education bodies and government – it’s unique in being women focused, business-led and government-backed.