Women owned businesses now contribute £105 billion to the UK economy each year, according to the findings of a new report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Supporting Women in Enterprise in the UK: The Economic Case.
The report found that the economic contribution by women owned businesses had grown by an estimated 40 per cent in just three years. There has also been a 26 per cent increase in employment generated by women owned businesses.
Whilst the report findings were largely positive, with 2.9 million people now employed in women owned businesses, women still aren’t starting businesses at the same rate as men.
Overall, the number of women founders is on the rise, but certain sectors are lagging behind. Diversity in manufacturing and other high growth areas has fallen as a proportion of women owned firms. By contrast, the research shows that there has been a rise in the proportion of women owned firms in the care sector where economic growth is lower.
According to FSB, the reasons why careers in engineering and manufacturing aren’t being taken up by as many women must be addressed to ensure these sectors aren’t seen as male dominated workforces, as they are industries with high economic growth.
Findings from PWC reveal that only 16 per cent of women have had technology suggested to them as a career compared to 33 per cent of men in the UK. FSB and others say that more must be done to encourage young girls and women to take up STEM subjects so they can become the scientists and engineers of tomorrow.
With the economic case for supporting women’s entrepreneurship clearly set out, FSB is calling for new ways to harness more untapped potential. These range from promoting a greater awareness of alternative finance options (women are more likely than men to use a single source of finance); to raising the visibility of role models to encourage more women to set up their own business.
FSB joined forces with Facebook to launch these findings at an event for entrepreneurs looking to boost their digital marketing skills and grow their networks. The launch was in partnership with She Means Business, a Facebook and FSB initiative to bring women entrepreneurs together, allowing them to share experiences and to further their digital and marketing expertise to enhance their business.
Speaking about the campaign, Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s VP EMEA said: “We all have a role to play in addressing the diversity imbalances that exist around the world. It’s unacceptable that our culture is still hard-wired against women in leadership roles. Until that changes we need to find ways to get behind the women who want to step forward and lead, to give them the skills and courage to succeed.
“Through our #SheMeansBusiness programme, in partnership with FSB, which empowers thousands of entrepreneurial women by offering them training, tools and practical advice, we discovered that one of the main barriers holding women back is a lack of confidence and digital skills.”
Lina Bourdon, FSB’s Women in Enterprise lead, said: “The Government must now address this untapped potential with a range of suitable measures, such as career advice, role models, and access to business support and finance.”
Find out more at fsb.org.uk/women