Less than 6% of working-age women are engaged in early stage entrepreneurial activity, compared to more than 10% of men. Increasing female participation in the sector to 10% would take the overall economic contribution of women-led SMEs to more than £180bn by 2025. The report makes two recommendations to achieve these goals.
Heather Crosby, partner at Deloitte in the North West, said: “Despite a substantial increase in the number of start-ups in the UK over the past five years, the proportion of working-age women engaged in early stage entrepreneurial activity has fallen over the same time period. The longevity rates for businesses led by women have also been lower. While there are many fantastic examples of women-led start-ups, these statistics show that much of the potential remains untapped.
“One of the barriers we identified to women setting up their own business was limited access to relevant role models, quality mentors and professional networks. These are vital for anyone looking to set up their first business. We need a more focussed and connected programme of initiatives, involving a systematic approach to supporting women entrepreneurs to scale their businesses.”
The report, compiled for the Women’s Business Council, draws on findings from research and interviews with more than 20 successful female entrepreneurs from across the UK.
It seeks to establish the common barriers which prevent women from setting up and succeeding with their businesses and makes recommendations as to what could be done to promote greater success.
The report makes two recommendations:
Crosby added: “We believe the Academy could become the centre of a support system for women entrepreneurs, modelling the position of Tech City UK with digital businesses. It will be important that support is drawn from across government, business and education to provide the expertise and experience on which entrepreneurs can draw.”
Minister for women, equalities and family justice Caroline Dinenage said: “We must all work together to break down the barriers that prevent women from starting up a business and making it grow. The Government is supporting business-women by sponsoring mentoring roadshows and offering bespoke training, as well as providing start-up loans to help women achieve their entrepreneurial dreams.
“This report by Deloitte shines a light on the challenges faced by women in business and I’m grateful for their insight.”