Female entrepreneurs continue to make great strides, despite a challenging economic climate

In 2019, the Alison Rose Review of female entrepreneurship was launched. It considered barriers to female entrepreneurship and set out an ambitious agenda for change.

The Review noted that £250 billion could be added to the UK economy if women in the UK matched men in starting and scaling businesses.

The Review resulted in the launch of the Investing in Women Code. The Code is a commitment to support the advancement of female entrepreneurship in the United Kingdom by improving access to tools, resources and finance from the financial services sector.  With nearly 200 signatories across the UK’s financial services sector, including many of our members, it demonstrates a real commitment to tangible action.

The 2023 Rose Review Progress Report, published this week, highlights year on year progress in supporting women to start up, scale and grow businesses. Women founded more than 150,000 businesses in 2022. 20.46 per cent of all business incorporations were female led, compared to 16.65 per cent in 2018.  And despite the challenging economic climate half of female business leaders and entrepreneurs are confident in their own business prospects over the next 12 months.

Support from banks
High Street banks are playing a pivotal role in supporting female entrepreneurs and opening opportunities for female-led businesses.

Santander has announced the Women Business Leaders’ Mentoring Programme powered by Moving Ahead, which will run from March to November 2023. This programme matches women business leaders from across the UK with carefully selected mentors from a variety of industries and backgrounds, who will support their mentees as they consider their next stage of business and professional growth. Santander has also recently launched a suite of financial education resources created to support women of colour in business consider and access business finance.

Metro Bank has made its support and resources for female entrepreneurs more visible and accessible both online and in local community branches. The ‘Women in Business’ section of Metro Bank’s website now hosts a series of inspirational female founder case studies and shares practical guidance and information. In 2023, the bank will also be launching a programme of local events with speakers tackling diverse issues and challenges facing women in business, alongside networking opportunities.

Access to finance remains a challenge for many female entrepreneurs. The 2023 Review found that 50 per cent of female business leaders and entrepreneurs reported finding access to funding and investment hard in the past 12 months. Signatories to the Code have launched a range of initiatives to open up more diverse and accessible funding avenues at every stage of the business journey, including through early-stage angel investing, venture capital and bank loans. 

2023 is likely to prove another challenging year for many businesses. But the 2023 Review shows that, with the support of the financial services sector, many more women will have the opportunity to start, scale or grow their business, playing an essential role in the UK’s economic growth.

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