30 OPINION Current Debates Procurement and women-owned businesses T he Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) ‘Strategic Framework for Women’s Enterprise’ sets out an action plan with ambitious targets for the number of women starting up in enterprise and accessing business support. More generally, the European Commission’s White paper on ‘Innovation and Enterprise’ highlights the need to foster co–operation between regional development bodies and enterprise networks to promote and maximise the potential of female entrepreneurship. But efforts to support the development of female entrepreneurship through public intervention have yet to come up to the challenge – according to recent figures only 15% of businesses in the UK are owned by women compared with 30% in the US; in fact, if women were to establish businesses at the same rate as men there would be an additional 150,000 new businesses created a year. Interestingly, start–up and development rates among BME women appear to exceed the average for women generally – in London, for instance, Black women have the highest level of business ownership at 29% compared to 21% for White women. Reflecting this wider hiatus in enterprise development, when it comes to the procurement and supply chain debate there remains considerable gaps in action and intervention. And yet women– Dr Kemal Ahson ‘supply chains’ engage ISSUE TWO 2006 Re–casting the language of In an obvious sense, there is a need for a pro–active attitude to encouraging female entrepreneurship, particularly from Black and minority ethnic (BME) communities.