Gap closes

Review reports record number of female-led startups

Alison Rose
Alison Rose: real progress (pic: Terry Murden)

A record number of start-ups are being founded by women and the growth of new female-led businesses outstripped male-led companies for the first time, according to the latest figures from a government-commissioned review.

More than 140,000 companies were established by all-women teams last year and the figure is growing by a third each year, with particularly strong growth in female-led start-ups among those aged 16 to 25.

Latest figures from the Rose Review show that 5,951 companies were established by women in Scotland, more than double the figure recorded in 2018 a year before NatWest chief executive Alison Rose was appointed to lead an independent review of female entrepreneurship

However, the impact of Covid-19 could hold back further progress because women have spent twice as long on caring responsibilities during the pandemic as their male counterparts and their businesses have been less likely to recover. In addition, women continue to capture only a fraction of available equity investment.

Extra measures are being announced to boost support for female entrepreneurs including the expansion of schemes to provide networking and mentoring opportunities, and a recruitment campaign to encourage more businesses to sign up to the Investing In Women Code.

The government-backed code, a response to the Rose review, is a commitment by financial services firms to improve access to tools, resources and finance for female entrepreneurs.

Ms Rose said that although there has been “real progress” in the last three years, women still don’t receive all the support they need.

Gillian Fleming
Gillian Fleming: sea change (pic: Terry Murden)

“Data shows that more women than ever are starting new businesses and we must harness this potential. That means more financial institutions committing to delivering change and funding,” she said.

“We also need more direct support for businesses across the UK and we must propose fresh, imaginative solutions to the challenges posed by women’s caring responsibilities.”

Gillian Fleming, co-founder and chief executive of Mint Ventures, said: “We welcome the beginning of a sea change with more women starting their own businesses.

“We need to make angel investing more accessible to more women by providing plain English training in a safe space where they can further develop their investment capabilities.”

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