The number of female entrepreneurs is on the rise, and their share of investment funding is increasing.
It’s not a line you read very often, but it’s something we need to celebrate louder, because the perception can sometimes be anything but.
Often, we hear about the challenges facing women, but little about their successes. In fact, the UK is not short of inspirational female entrepreneurs, and there are many more in the pipeline. A report released today by the Female Founders Forum, with a forward by international trade secretary and minister for women and equalities Liz Truss, champions these women, their achievements, and their role in inspiring the next generation.
Female-founded startups represent a growing share of investment activity. In 2011, 11 per cent of startups that raised equity investment were founded by women. By 2018, this figure had almost doubled to 21 per cent. Female-founded businesses also have similar rates of follow-on funding. Once they receive an investment, the percentage that secure additional rounds of capital is almost equal to male-founded firms (52 per cent versus 51 per cent).
Despite these strides, there is still a huge amount to be done to boost female entrepreneurship in the UK, and there’s a seriously strong economic case for ensuring that this progress continues – as Truss knows only too well. Earlier in the year, she highlighted a Treasury report which found that the gender gap in investment accounts for approximately 1.1m missed business opportunities, equating to a £250bn potential for the UK economy.
This lost opportunity is one of the reasons why we launched the Female Founders Forum with The Entrepreneurs Network four years ago – to encourage, support and promote female entrepreneurship.
To continue moving forward, it is vital that we make the UK the best place for a woman to start and scale a business – and despite the doom and gloom narrative that is so pervasive, there are reasons to feel optimistic that we can achieve this sooner rather than later.
The private and public sectors are finally starting to work together in an effective way. The timely Rose Review and the Investing in Women Code that followed – of which we are a proud signatory – outline both the opportunity and a way forward.
Part of the answer to closing this gap starts at school. Instil girls with the right skills, financial literacy, and self-belief, and they are more likely to see themselves as both entrepreneurs and leaders in business.
And helping more women become founders also means putting more of the right support networks in place. I am lucky to spend time with a variety of inspiring women and men who have launched and scaled successful businesses. These impressive individuals often cite their own role models, mentors, and a wide support network as reasons for their success.
And that’s why tonight we are hosting our annual Entrepreneur Awards, to celebrate the incredible successes of some of the country’s most inspirational entrepreneurs.
The UK the startup capital of Europe, with our companies attracting more venture capital than any other country on the continent. It’s time to shout louder about the success of our entrepreneurs, and inspire the next generation to follow in their footsteps.
Main image credit: Getty