International Women’s Day: Blog by Bethan Webber, CEO

8 March 2024

This International Women’s Day, join Cwmpas CEO, Bethan Webber, in spotlighting the incredible contributions of women social entrepreneurs shaping Welsh communities. From arts and mental health charities to sustainable enterprises, women are at the forefront, bridging innovation with well-being. Explore the impactful stories and achievements, fostering a new era of economic development for Wales.

This International Women’s Day, we at Cwmpas wanted to give a spotlight to some of the inspiring women social entrepreneurs who are making a huge difference in Welsh communities.

Across a range of different sectors, women are using the social enterprise model to answer the challenges they and their communities face. Combining the qualities of innovation and entrepreneurialism with the values of well-being and sustainability, the social enterprise sector has a pivotal role to play in transforming our economy to one that prioritises well-being, reaches net-zero and has true gender equality.

The 2023 Social Business Wales Awards saw Eleanor Shaw, founder of PeopleSpeakUp, win the Social Enterprise Women’s Champion Award. Having spent many years as a leader in further education settings Eleanor felt the call to make an even bigger impact. After making the brave move to leave her leadership role in the education sector she took time out and travelled to find healing and purpose. Eleanor found that through storytelling.

Today, PeopleSpeakUp is an arts and mental health and wellbeing charity with a social purpose that connects communities through storytelling, spoken word, creative writing and participatory arts. They offer workshops, training, events, volunteering and conversations and make a huge impact to people’s lives through connected communities and strong partnership working.

There are women all over Wales making a huge contribution to our communities in similar ways alongside boosting the Welsh economy through social enterprise, a growing sector which now employs 65,299 people across the country. Our research has shown that leadership within the sector has a significantly better gender-balance than the private sector, with 51% of people on senior leadership teams being women, and 56% of social enterprises having a woman as their most senior manager.

This is just one reason why we are passionate about social enterprise. We believe it must be at the heart of a new model of economic development for Wales. Through supporting the social enterprise sector we will nurture communities themselves to solve the issues they are facing and re-balance local economies to create sustainable prosperity. In light of the loss of Chwarae Teg and their vital work, it is vital we don’t get complacent about equality and ensure women social leaders – in the social enterprise sector and beyond – have the support, training and networking opportunities needed to create the most impact possible.

We are fortunate in Wales to have so many brilliant women role models in the social enterprise sector. We see every day the huge difference they are making in our communities. By promoting these inspiring women we can help to ensure that the next generation has the confidence and entrepreneurial mindset to find the solutions to the challenges we face.

This International Women’s Day, check out our social media feeds to see more examples of inspiring women within the Cwmpas team and across the social enterprise sector. If you have an idea for a social enterprise, want to learn more about the sector or think you can support it in your work, get in touch – we would be delighted to talk.