The Alison Rose Review into Female Entrepreneurship (“Rose Review”), first published in March 2019, demonstrated that up to £250 billion of new value (equivalent to 1 SME million businesses) could be added to the UK economy; if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as UK men.
The pandemic has compounded the difficulties and expanded the obstacles faced by many women in starting, continuing and scaling their business. Recent research by NatWest found that nearly three-quarters (77%) of female business owners found managing their business in the pandemic stressful, compared to 55% of male entrepreneurs. Women are also 17 per cent more likely than men to struggle balancing business demands with family life. Recent research commissioned by NatWest in conjunction with YouGov also showed that:
- 1 in 10 female entrepreneurs plan to start a business in 2021;
- 55% of female business leaders would not recommend starting a business in their sector in 2021;
- Female entrepreneurs and business owners are 17% more likely to struggle balancing business with family life during the pandemic; and,
- Nearly three quarters (71%) of female business owners and entrepreneurs found managing their business stressful during the pandemic, compared with just over half of males (55%).
Against this difficult backdrop, good progress has been made this year in supporting female-led businesses. Through the Rose Review Board and the Investing in Women Council, working in partnership with a variety of organisations in business, finance and the third sector, and with HM Treasury (HMT) and the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has continued, to drive forward all eight initiatives proposed in the Review.
A central finding of the Rose Review was that that the single biggest issue holding female entrepreneurs back is the lack of funding directed towards them. To address this and ensure that female-led businesses can play their part in the economic recovery by ultimately scaling and growing, new funding sources are coming on stream. These include the UK Enterprise Fund, an exciting partnership between the Business Growth Fund and Coutts. The UK Enterprise Fund will invest c.£50 million in diverse and high potential businesses alongside a support programme for female investees. NatWest has also announced an additional £1 billion in funding to help support female-led businesses in the UK recover from the coronavirus, this builds on the £1bn announced last January – the largest intervention by a UK lender focused specifically on female entrepreneurs.