Women-owned businesses account for an estimated 15.5% of SMEs, contributing around £50 billion to the UK’s GVA1 every year. But if women started up businesses at the same rate as men, we’d have 100,000 extra new firms every year – which would really boost the British economy.
Women have a range of challenges in starting up and growing a business, including lower levels of capital, caring responsibilities and the work/life balance, greater difficulty in accessing finance, affordability and accessibility of childcare, and lower levels of confidence and risk receptiveness. But women do not lack the ambition to grow – they just need a women-tailored, women-friendly service.
In 2006, our Enterprising Women project started the transformation of the business support landscape for female entrepreneurs and, so far, we have trained nearly 4,000 women and enabled the creation of more than 3,000 businesses.
Enterprising Women was selected by BIS as one of three national best practice examples for SME support and recognised by WINNET 8, a European project researching good practice in eight European countries.
This expertise in unlocking the potential of female entrepreneurs extends throughout our work. More than half of our Outset clients are women, and over a third of our Enterprise Fellows, commercialising university bioscience and healthcare research, were female.
1 BIS Small Business Survey 2010