A WOMAN who saw a gap in the market for pulling together rural businesses is championing other women by helping with support and networking.

Sharon Davis, originally from London but now living with her young family in Hawes, has a background in journalism and PR and set up Dales Business Women to help her network while working from home in such a rural location.

She said: "The network has given me the chance to meet like-minded people, which is important when working from home in a rural area with a baby. I’m passionate about business, and the opportunity to help self-employed, professional and business women connect, build friendships and do business has been amazing.

"I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the response to Dales Business Women. We’ve had a steady flow of new members, a good turnout at our events and a lot of general interest both within the Dales and outside."

Mrs Davis runs networking events in Richmond, Leyburn, Masham and Reeth, as well as monthly co-working days.

"It shows that there is a need for business support and networking within the Dales and we are working alongside some of the fantastic business groups that are providing this. Our research showed that self-employed and professional women want to connect and build meaningful relationships with people in other Dales towns and villages which are mostly separated by many miles, and this is something that we offer.

"The network is about so much more than the events, we have an online directory which we are actively pushing, co-working activities to enable members to have access to suitable working spaces, training, video tutorials plus we create marketing and PR opportunities for our members too."

DBW member Paula Richardson, who runs Kitbag Crafts, said: "Working as a sole business owner in a predominantly rural area can be isolating. DBW network has been a real game changer for me.

"Going to events and talking with others who are experiencing very similar challenges has been eye opening. No matter what the business type, there are common issues to deal with and being able to talk with others about their experiences has given me a new focus on my own business."

For information visit dalesbusinesswomen.com.