The centre has already helped more than 350 women with their business ventures and, with funding from the European Social Fund and the East of England development Agency, is preparing a series of new courses, events and networks.

It was born out of the University of Bedfordshire’s commitment to equal opportunities, lifelong learning and widening participation and launched in June 2005 as an 18-month project, funded by the ESF.

The overall aim was to support women who wished to start or grow small-to-medium enterprises and to provide management development for women including the UK’s first women-only Master’s in Business Administration for Developing Businesses.

Dawn Jordan (pictured), who heads the centre, said: “The CWE has made a strong impact in the region, assisting more than 350 women with their business ventures, building a supportive community and making a real difference to their success. This has enabled the CWE to become a core part of the Business School.

“We’re also conducting some ground-breaking research into how women build and utilise their social capital.”

The CWE business community has risen to more than 400 women, with 40 having joined the MBA course.

Women who have benefited from the centre came to the university’s Putteridge Bury campus in Luton to celebrate the CWE becoming part of the university’s business school.

Dawn said: “We have had some great feedback from women on the positive difference the centre is making to their lives, with some growing their businesses, gaining confidence, getting clearer about what they want out of life, valuing themselves and their services more highly, and changing their careers.

“The most important aspect is the hugely positive results and the knock-on effect on their families, businesses and their communities.”

To find out more about the CWE call 01582 743 931 or e-mail dawn.jordan@beds.ac.uk

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