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The UK economy could receive a £250 billion boost if it increases the number of women starting and running businesses, according to a new report.

The report, led by Alison Rose, the head of Royal Bank of Scotland's corporate, commercial and private banking business, found that the shortfall in female entrepreneurs was hurting the UK economy.

Commissioned by the government, the Rose Report, which has been released on International Women's Day, said that just 6% of women in the UK run their own business, compared with 15% in Canada, 11% in the US and more than 9% in Australia and the Netherlands.

The report's calculations claim that if the UK achieved a similar share of female entrepreneurs as these countries, the economy would see a £200bn increase. And that figure would increase to £250bn if women received the same backing as men.

Alison Rose said: "I firmly believe that the disparity that exists between female and male entrepreneurs is unacceptable and holding the UK back."

She added: "The unrealised potential for the UK economy is enormous."

Prime Minister Theresa May said the government would encourage businesses and investors to look at the gender split at the companies they invest in.

NatWest, which is owned by RBS, is the first organisation to commit itself to the code.

The report found that just one in three entrepreneurs in the UK are female, which it says equates to over one million unfounded businesses. And small businesses run by men are five times more likely to reach a turnover of £1 million than those run by women, partly because female entrepreneurs receive less funding per head than men at every stage of investment.