Female and ethnically diverse entrepreneurs flourishing thanks to new libraries initiative

New findings published by Knowledge Quarter partner the British Library reveal that a two-year initiative to run business support services in libraries has attracted more than double the national average of women to start up their own businesses, and triple the number of entrepreneurs from black and Asian minority ethnic backgrounds.

These figures are taken from nearly 1,700 new businesses created over a two-year period as part of the Enterprising Libraries project.

Enterprising Libraries is a £1.3m partnership between the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), Arts Council England (ACE) and the British Library which has enabled 16 public libraries across the UK to provide free access to collections and face-to-face advice and guidance for entrepreneurs on how to start, protect and grow their own business.

Key highlights from the study reveal:

  • Between April 2013 and March 2015 the Enterprising Libraries have together created a total of nearly 1,700 new businesses and 4,200 new jobs (predicted to rise to 22,000 jobs by 2017)
  • The jobs were predominantly in the creative industries, tech and professional services sectors, and just under a third (29%) were created in libraries in the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ region, including Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Hull, Leeds and Sheffield
  • Free business and intellectual property information (85%) was reported as a chief benefit, as well as face-to-face support (82% rated this as important), and the function of the libraries as a ‘one stop shop‘ for a range of business support needs (48%)
  • Of the 1,692 businesses created by Enterprising Libraries, 47% of the founders were women (compared with the national average of 18%[1]), 26% were from black and Asian minority ethnic groups (compared with the national average of 7%[2]), 14% had a disability (including dyslexia) and a quarter had previously been unemployed or made redundant

The British Library has run its own dedicated space to support entrepreneurs, the Business & IP Centre, since 2006. Enterprising Libraries has enabled the British Library to replicate the Business & IP Centre model in six major cities, plus collaborate with ten further library services around the country to spearhead a business support service in their local areas. The British Library’s ambition, as detailed in our recent vision, Living Knowledge, is to expand the Business & IP Centre network to 20 city libraries across the UK by 2020.

Click here to read the full press release.