A group of senior business leaders have called on the Chancellor to use tomorrow’s budget to boost female entrepreneurship – with the UK economy said to be losing out on £250bn a year thanks to a lack of women starting and scaling businesses.
Though women in the UK established over 150,000 new companies in 2022, over twice as many as in 2018, men still established four times more than women, according to a review led by now-Natwest boss Dame Alison Rose. Closing the gap would boost economic growth.
The authors claim women still face particular issues when starting and scaling businesses.
Female entrepreneurs spent twice as long on childcare as their male counterparts during the pandemic and a McKinsey survey from October 2021 found that female-founded businesses were 62 per cent less likely to survive lockdown.
In the open letter, the President of Mastercard UK and Ireland Kelly Devine along with leaders from startup incubators Enterprise Nation, Digital Boost and Be The Business, called on Jeremy Hunt to:
- Encourage VC investment in female and ethnic-minority founded businesses with tax breaks
- Provide finance to female entrepreneurs with a new fund supported by the private sector and the state-owned British Business Bank
- Launch a taskforce to tackle childcare costs
- Automatically offer information and training to female founders through Companies House and HMRC
- Create a national database of female and ethnic-minority businesses to identify the challenges they face
- Host trade missions for female-founded businesses to help them export around the world
The letter was sent after conversations with around 100 business leaders, the authors wrote.
“Only through effective partnerships between the government, private sector businesses, and third-sector partners can we truly level the playing field for female founders from all communities and backgrounds and unlock the full potential of the UK economy”, they wrote.