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Home secretary on track to recruit 15,000 mentors by September, to help women hoping to succeed in business

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Thousands of successful women have joined the drive to kick-start growth by stepping forward to mentor other women wanting to succeed in business.

Inspirational mentoring champions include Specsavers founder Dame Mary Perkins and Dawn Russell, who survived cancer and now runs her own foundation aimed at boosting self-worth in young women. Other high-profile ambassadors promoting mentoring include Hallett Retail founder Wendy Hallett and digital business entrepreneur Penny Power.

Home secretary and minister for women and equalities Theresa May (pictured) said: "Women are vital to Britain's economic future and the support of a mentor will help even more of them fulfil their true potential.

"The Government is working hard to help women make the most of their talents, but we cannot act alone. I'm delighted by these mentors' commitment to helping budding businesswomen succeed - and to making Britain prosper."

Last November, the May announced funding to recruit and train 5,000 mentors as part of a package of support for women in business. The Department for Business revealed a further 10,000 mentors would be recruited to support both male and female entrepreneurs.

So far 12,319 volunteers have registered to become mentors, with 4,951 (40 per cent) of them women. 7,277 people have completed their training, of whom 2,960, (also 40 per cent), are female. The project is on track to deliver 15,000 mentors by the end of September.

Mentors will be trained to support women through free workshops or online and distance learning. They will provide a minimum of one-hour free business mentoring a month to an owner of a micro, small, or medium-sized business over the next two years.

If women started businesses at the same rate as men there would be an additional 150,000 start-ups a year, and if female entrepreneurship reached the same levels as the US it would contribute an extra £42 billion to the economy.

The Home Secretary also announced updates to a range of additional support for women in business:

  • Rural Growth Networks - Details are being published of a £2 milliom programme to help female entrepreneurs in rural areas start or build their own business;
  • 'Think, Act, Report' - Case studies are being published today showing how adopting the principles behind the Government's voluntary approach to diversity at work has helped leading firms - including BT, Tesco and Ernst & Young - reap business rewards;
  • Women's Business Council - The Council is today publishing the work programme for its one-year mission to identify and break down the barriers to female success; and
  • Women and banks - The Government is revealing the initial findings of its review to ensure women have equal access to the finance they need to start a business.

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