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Tuesday 21 Sep 21
There is a shortage of British-based female founder role models. Not surprising when you think how few women launch businesses compared to men. It’s time to change the opportunity, the landscape and the narrative around this.
So, we asked 14 inspirational female business owners in our community to help us to demonstrate just how important women-led businesses are for our British economy and for British society. This is in part a celebration of own feature (as an innovative and impactful, female-founded business) in a commemorative album published by the Parliament Trust this September, highlighting British achievements and leadership across society, culture, politics, technology and commerce.* But it is also a celebration of these amazing women and their businesses.
*You can read more about that here
Our contributors are women at all stages of running a business. They are each doing great things – without ego or fan-fare. You may even not yet have encountered some of them. We believe it’s time you did.
From making the world more socially and environmentally responsible to supporting the world’s millions of amputees; from unlocking the secrets to better wellbeing, to coaching and empowering entrepreneurs to achieve their ambitions sustainably; from solving costly and risky compliance headaches to improving financial education to help individuals and families avoid debt and hardship… these are women who are not afraid of big challenges, who haven’t taken an easy path or let motivations of wealth or ‘unicorn-tinted’ glasses influence their choices; and who have overcome the scepticism of many, to create impactful, sustainable businesses that real people care about.
We believe these women are the ideal role models for many other women who have said that they’d like to run a business but don’t know how to start, or who feel that they wouldn’t be good enough to do so; and for the many women who’ve shared with us that they feel intimidated and/or deterred by today’s loudly recurring narrative that if you’re not going to be the next unicorn, nobody’s going to be very interested in funding, joining or supporting you.
If you can see it, you can be it... and for many of us, seeing successful female founders to whom we relate and who ‘look like us’, is a big factor in helping us make the decision to start up - and in giving us the encouragement to keep going once we’ve started.
You only have to look at the findings of the Alison Rose Review (if women matched the number of men starting and scaling businesses, it would have the potential to add an additional £250bn to the UK economy, equivalent to a total GVA of roughly £1.9bn per year), and campaigns like WeareRadikl’s #OverBeingUnderFunded movement, to know that the opportunity for more women to be better supported in pursuing an entrepreneurial calling and make their mark is huge!
And it turns out plenty of women do want to pursue this calling. Avon’s 2021 survey, for example, discovered that nearly 60% of women they spoke to wanted to start their own business.
On a global level, female founders pack an incredible entrepreneurial punch. In 2016, a reported 163m women started new businesses in 74 economies around the world. That’s on top of 111m women recorded as already running businesses.
But the UK lags behind many of its international peers including Europe and the US when it comes to supporting women to launch businesses. It’s all very well for the UK government to express an ambition to increase the current number of female entrepreneurs by half by 2030 (an equivalent of nearly 600,000 additional female entrepreneurs) and for UENI to report that the gender gap between male and female-led businesses was slowly closing by 2020 (though not really in respect of larger headcount businesses). However, an ambition without the key players being persuaded that it’s a viable career path for them is nothing but hot air. Fear of failure is still the top factor holding far too many of us back according to the Rose Review and only 39% of women participating in that review felt confident in their abilities to start a business.
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