The Rise of Women as Entrepreneurs in the UK
Women have been stepping into high positions and achieving independence in greater numbers over the years. One area where this is particularly evident is in the rise of women as entrepreneurs.
According to NatWest Group, in 2022, women in the UK established over 150,000 new companies – more than twice as many as in 2018. Of these, 16 to 25-year-old women founded nearly 17,500 businesses in 2022, a figure that’s more than 22 times greater than in 2018.
In addition, 20.46% of all business incorporations were female-led, compared to 16.65% in 2018. And despite the challenging economic climate half of female business leaders and entrepreneurs are confident in their business prospects for the next 12 months, according to UK Finance.
This growth and trend is not limited to new businesses either. The majority of investments into women-led businesses in 2022 were seed investments, with 158 start-ups raising early-stage funding, which indicates a strengthening pipeline of women-led next-generation businesses.
Also, women occupy 31% of leadership roles, compared to 29% in 2020.
Factors Driving the Rise
There are a couple of factors why women entrepreneurs are on the rise:
Advancements in Gender Equality and Empowerment
Even though the situation is still not anywhere near perfect, there has been a significant shift towards gender equality and empowerment.
Thankfully, this shift provided women with greater opportunities to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.
This has resulted in a growing number of women who are now confident and well-equipped to start their businesses, with access to a range of resources such as funding, mentorship, and networks.
As a result, more women are now able to break down traditional barriers and take advantage of the many opportunities available to them in the business world.
Changing Attitudes and Perceptions Towards Women in Business
Societal attitudes and perceptions towards women in business have also changed.
Women are increasingly finding themselves in a supportive and inclusive environment, allowing them greater access to funding, networks, and mentorship programs.
More women are pursuing leadership roles, contributing to a more diverse and dynamic business landscape. This shift is not only beneficial for women but also for the economy as a whole, as it unlocks the full potential of half of the population and drives innovation and growth.
Supportive Government Policies and Initiatives
The UK government has made significant efforts to support women entrepreneurs. An example, is the launch in 2019 of the Alison Rose Review, which aims to identify and address the barriers that women entrepreneurs face.
In a recent analysis, the review found that women entrepreneurs face significant barriers in accessing funding, particularly at the scale-up stage. To address this, the government has launched a £400 million fund called the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, which aims to increase the number of women-led businesses that receive venture capital.
Technological Advancements and Digital Platforms
In today’s world, women have an unprecedented opportunity to leverage technology and digital platforms to start and expand their businesses.
The rise of e-commerce and social media has made it easier than ever to reach a wider audience and promote products and services.
The availability of online tools and resources has removed many of the barriers that once made entrepreneurship seem daunting or inaccessible. With just a few clicks, women can access funding opportunities, connect with mentors and peers, and gain valuable insights into marketing, branding, and sales.
Types of Business Run by Women as Entrepreneurs in the UK
Women entrepreneurs in the UK are making strides in a variety of sectors.
In the health and wellness space, women are creating innovative products and services to help people lead healthier lives. From fitness studios and gyms to health food stores and supplement companies, women entrepreneurs are helping to shape the way we think about wellness.
In fashion, women are creating unique and sustainable clothing lines, as well as accessories and beauty products.
In the food and beverage industry, women are opening restaurants, cafes, and bakeries that offer both delicious and healthy food options. Women are running businesses ranging from coffee shops with commercial coffee machine to disruptive startups.
Finally, in education, women are creating online courses and tutoring services that help people learn new skills and advance their careers. These women-led businesses are making a significant impact on their respective industries, and they are paving the way for future generations of female entrepreneurs.
Despite these positive trends, women entrepreneurs still face several challenges.
- Gender biases and stereotypes: Women entrepreneurs still do face discrimination, negative stereotypes, and unconscious bias from potential investors, employees, and customers.
- Access to funding and investment opportunities: Women entrepreneurs often have difficulty securing funding, particularly at the scale-up stage. This limits their ability to expand their businesses and reach their full potential.
- Work-life balance issues: Balancing work and personal life can be especially challenging when you have to juggle family responsibilities and business demands.
- Building strong professional networks and support systems: Because of gender biases, women entrepreneurs may lack access to the same professional networks and support systems as their male counterparts. This stops women from connecting with mentors, peers, and potential customers.
- Advocating for equal opportunities and inclusivity: Women entrepreneurs not only need to work hard but also advocate for themselves and other women in business daily.
The rise of women as entrepreneurs is a positive trend that we should celebrate and support. We need to continue to work together to empower women and to provide them with the resources, networks, and support they need to succeed. By doing so, we can ensure that women continue to be a driving force in the UK economy for many years to come.