Just 20 per cent of businesses are run by women

Women in the UK outnumbering men by around one million

A government review was launched in September 2018 to investigate the barriers that could be preventing women from starting their own businesses and securing the support and backing to make them a success.

Despite women in the UK outnumbering men by around one million, there are half as many female entrepreneurs as male; in fact, figures reveal that just one in five British small- or medium-sized businesses are run by a woman.

Britain is home to many innovative businesses; however, as highlighted by the exchequer secretary to the Treasury, Robert Jenrick, a minority of these were started by women. The government review will publish its findings in early 2019 and amongst its objectives are identifying the barriers women face and suggesting ways these could be overcome.

The review is being led by the chief executive of RBS Commercial and Private Banking, Alison Rose, who points out that statistics show women comprise just one-third of all entrepreneurs in the UK. It seems the importance of this issue cannot be overstated, particularly if, as Rose discusses, the UK wants to be a strong choice to start and grow a business.

Factors at play within this area are expected to be complex and multiple. The review will be investigating the disparities between men and women’s experience of entrepreneurship and attempting to identify ways to reduce any barriers; however, a societal shift may be required to even the playing field between men and women aiming to start their own businesses. As identified by Marlene Outrim, the founder and managing director at UNIQ Family Wealth, the attitudes experienced by women in business can be so established that they can be hard for people to see, let alone change.

A further consideration is the ease with which male entrepreneurs can secure funding and investment in comparison with women trying to do the same. Potential recommendations resulting from the review may include examples of best practice when making investment decisions for financial services or individual investors.

The small business minister, Kelly Tolhurst, believes these businesses are an important part of our economy, with her history as a small business owner meaning that she can identify with current or aspiring female entrepreneurs and the challenges they face. She welcomes this review as an opportunity to help these women access the support they need.

This review is part of the government’s wider work to increase diversity and create a Britain to enable small businesses to flourish. The government will consider the report’s findings when it is published next year and provide a response.

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