By Max Clarke
Government must learn from the US to encourage female entrepreneurship and increase female-owned businesses if it is to really grow the economy, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said.
Ahead of International Women’s Day (Tuesday 8 March), the FSB is concerned that women-owned businesses only make up 29 per cent of self-employed people in the UK despite nearly half (46%) of the working population being female.
In a new report, ‘Women in business. Female entrepreneurship: creating growth and dispelling the myths’, the FSB is calling on the Government to learn from the US and other EU countries to encourage female entrepreneurship by breaking down the barriers to self-employment, promoting alternative sources of financing, encouraging mentoring, and promote female entrepreneurship role models.
Women’s enterprise contributes around £130 billion turnover and £70 billion Gross Value Added every year. But if the UK had the same level of female entrepreneurship as the US, there would be 600,000 extra women-owned businesses, contributing an additional £42 billion to the economy.
While the Government has said it is looking into female entrepreneurship, the FSB believes it is an economic resource the Government has yet to fully tap into within its plans to grow the economy.
The FSB is calling on the Government to encourage female entrepreneurship by putting in place the following recommendations:
• Better promote alternative sources of finance and provide access to training and support on finance options to increase the growth potential of women-owned small businesses
• Offer female mentors through the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme and promote women-specific business networks, forums and mentors through Jobcentre Plus
• Introduce enterprise clubs for women to facilitate networking with successful female entrepreneurs and provide access to speakers and advisors on how to start up a business
• Tap into existing campaigns to further promote female business role models in the media
However, the FSB is concerned that it is not just women that have to break down the barriers to starting up a businesses, but both men and women, so the FSB is urging the Government to make tackling this a priority and is calling for a moratorium on the introduction of all employment regulations for a year following the Chancellor's Budget this month.
John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:
“The number of female entrepreneurs is strikingly low, and yet increasing the number of women who run their own small business will be good for the UK economy. The Government is looking towards the private sector to put the economy back on track, so it is common sense to increase the number of women-owned firms across the country.
“The US has nurtured female entrepreneurship and now the UK needs to learn from them and do the same. By doing so it will help tackle high unemployment and cultivate an environment for growth. The Government can take positive steps to ensure that self-employment is a real option for women and men alike in its Budget this month.”