Facebook is expanding its programme aimed at supporting women in business as part of a scheme to increase the number of female founders in the UK.
AllBright - an initiative that offers funding, training and members clubs to female business owners - has joined the social network's #SheMeansBusiness programme.
The scheme was launched in 2016 with the aim of helping more women to pursue their business ideas and has already been used by 13,000 women in the UK.
Facebook's EMEA vice president Nicola Mendelsohn said expanding the programme was vital, not only for women looking to get into business but also for strengthening the economy.
"Small businesses are at the heart of our communities and are the backbone of our economy, employing more than 60% of the private sector workforce in the UK.
"In fact, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) ranks the UK third in the world for start-ups," she said.
"But we know it's not a level playing field, with UK men twice as likely as women to become a founder. #SheMeansBusiness was originally conceived to help rebalance this, and as we've supported 13,000 UK women through the programme, we know the next step is to help these startups grow and expand their networks.
"Growing a business is tough, but it's particularly tough for female business leaders. Being part of a business community, and having ongoing support to make progress on self-development, can make all the difference.
"It's why we're thrilled to welcome AllBright into the #SheMeansBusiness partner network, to help expand the reach of its free digital learning programme - The AllBright Academy."
The 10-week training course offers lessons in business as well as management tips and advice on how to make connections and grow a business.
Facebook says new research it commissioned found that female founders who were part of a business community were twice as likely to forecast growth than those who were not, however, 50% of those surveyed said they were not part of such a network.
AllBright co-founder Debbie Wosskow said: "Networks matter, and having groups of peers that can be called upon to collaborate and learn from when you're facing a business challenge can help enormously.
"AllBright is on a mission to make the UK the best place to be a woman in work and as part of this The AllBright Academy programme will complement and expand the support currently offered by #SheMeansBusiness by arming women with the essential skills they need to tackle topics like confidence and resilience, as well as cash flow and hiring a team.
"But importantly, it will also encourage participants to meet up and discuss the course topics, support each other to achieve their ambitions and further expand their networks."