Celebrating female entrepreneurs on International Women’s Day
Working within an all-female team that advises entrepreneurs and start-up businesses, I do notice the disproportion between female and male-led businesses and their opportunities for securing investment. International Women’s Day is the perfect time to reflect on this.
The disparity between male and female-led businesses has been noted by the UK government. The Treasury commissioned NatWest chief executive Alison Rose, to lead an independent review of female entrepreneurship which was published in 2019. The Rose Review highlighted the barriers faced by women starting and growing businesses and identified ways of unlocking this untapped talent.
The report, and the government’s response, set out the steps being taken by government and industry to help achieve this ambition, including;
- launching new investment vehicles for funding going to female entrepreneurs;
- encouraging UK-based private investors to further support and invest in female entrepreneurs;
- review existing and create new banking products aimed at entrepreneurs with family care responsibilities;
- expand existing mentorship and networking opportunities;
- accelerate development and roll-out of entrepreneurship-related courses to schools and colleges;
- the creation of Investing in Women Code, which is a commitment by financial services firms to improving female entrepreneurs’ access to tools, resources and finance.
In response to the Rose Review, the UK government has noted its desire to have a 50% increase in female entrepreneurs by 2030. This is the equivalent to nearly 600,000 additional female entrepreneurs.
Within our team we have historically seen progress in female-led investment deals. In 2019, 13.4% of our internal investment deals were by a female entrepreneur. However the figures show that the 2020 pandemic enhanced the difficulties and increased the obstacles by woman who wanted to create, continue or grow a business. Our internal figures show that female-led investment deals fell to just 5% of our total activity in 2020. Why is this? Statistics show that women entrepreneurs spend twice the amount of time on caring responsibilities as their male counterparts. Research by NatWest shows that 77% of female business owners found running their business in the pandemic stressful, compared to just 55% of male entrepreneurs. Women are also 17% more likely than men to struggle with running a business along with the demands of family life.
The latest progress report from the Rose Review in 2022 shows that 5,951 companies were established by women in Scotland in 2021, a figure that has more than doubled since 2018. Despite the positive impact of the Rose Review, there is a concern that the impact of the pandemic may slow down progress. In February 2022, the Rose Review board shared further measures to provide additional support for female entrepreneurs such as expanding schemes that provide networking and mentoring opportunities to female founders over the next three years, a campaign by NatWest to encourage institutions to sign up to the Investing In Women Code and the launch of a nationwide ‘Women Backing Women’ campaign to support woman to become business angel investors. I particularly like the ‘Women Backing Women’ initiative as it addresses the issue of a lack of female entrepreneurship at source.
Alison Rose has recently said:
“We have seen real progress since 2019. Getting more funding to female entrepreneurs and unlocking their untapped potential continues to be a priority across our industry. But women still don’t receive all the support they need and the pandemic risks holding back progress, so we must go further to achieve the goals of the Rose Review. Data shows that more women than ever are starting new businesses and we must harness this potential. That means more financial institutions committing to delivering change and funding. We also need more direct support for businesses across the UK and we must propose fresh, imaginative solutions to the challenges posed by women’s caring responsibilities.”
As a female working in an all-female team, we encourage female entrepreneurship and do all we can to support women in business.
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