European recognition for The Women’s Organisation

Jackie Wiliams

THE Women’s Organisation has been recognised by the European Commission for its part in helping more people from disadvantaged backgrounds take their first steps on the road to business success.

The Liverpool-based social enterprise which has supported more than 55,000 women over 23 years with their business start-up plans, was the UK representative among five different European nations developing new ways to help budding entrepreneurs across the continent achieve their ambitions.

The aim of the scheme was to solve two main problems: High unemployment of people, especially from disadvantaged backgrounds; and low participation of adults in life-long learning.

It was decided that the most likely solution was to improve the skills of adult educators working with disadvantaged learners by providing innovative methods to deliver learning activities for prospective business start-ups.

This involved developing innovative and attractive training material and ICT (information and communications technology) tools for the adult educators.

The project created a curriculum for adult educators – ‘Promotion of Lifestyle Entrepreneurship for Disadvantaged Learners’ – using specially-developed materials and ICT tools that covered five modules which were used to assess the success of the training for learners.

The Europe-wide project was funded by Erasmus+ – the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport.

Following its conclusion, it was selected as a “success story” by a panel of experts from the Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture of the European Commission.

In a letter to The Women’s Organisation, the panel explained: “Success stories are finalised projects that have distinguished themselves by their impact, contribution to policy-making, innovative results and/or creative approach and can be a source of inspiration for others.

“The project results contributed to implementation of the flagship initiatives: ‘An Agenda for New Skills and Jobs’ – to increase employment rate by 75%, and ‘European Platform Against Poverty’ – to reduce the poverty, social exclusion through the employment, active participation in public life and learning process.”

As a ‘success story’ the European Commission said: “Visibility and acknowledgement will be given to your project, for instance on our websites, social media, and when preparing documentation for conferences or other events.”

The Women’s Organisation enterprise director, Jackie Williams, was their key representative on the project.

She said it was extremely interesting, for her and The Women’s Organisation, to take part in the Europe-wide programme.

Jackie added: “It was really interesting for us taking part in this programme and seeing that how, no matter which of the five countries people lived in or how diverse their ideas, they tended to face similar challenges.”

She believes that such cross-border collaborations are to the benefit of everyone involved: “Pooling the expertise of organisations from across the EU through Erasmus+ projects like this means that we can share best practice and ensure our services are evolving in line with client need.”

And she said that being chosen as a ‘success story’ by experts from the European Commission validated everything The Women’s Organisation is working for, as well as showcasing their enterprise expertise on the wider European stage.