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Female-led start-ups set to power economic recovery

9 March 2021

A new survey by Small Business Britain has found that almost one-fifth of women are thinking about starting their own business.

Research firm Yonder/Populus polled 1,000 UK female consumers on behalf of Small Business Britain and found that almost one in five (17%) were considering starting a business.

The motivations of the would-be entrepreneurs vary but many have been influenced by their experiences during the pandemic - including some that have lost work and others that have been inspired to add meaning to their working lives. The findings show that:

  • 42% hope to turn a passion into a business;
  • 34% are looking to supplement their income with a side hustle;
  • 17% are reconsidering their current job;
  • 14% said they have been inspired by the pandemic to contribute to society;
  • 10% have suffered a job loss.

"This research underlines that female entrepreneurship continues to grow and flourish in the UK," said Michelle Ovens, founder of Small Business Britain.

"While 2021 will of course continue to be tough for small businesses, there are huge opportunities out there for women to grow and start their businesses. We saw a wave of start-up activity after the last recession, and with other figures sadly showing that women have been particularly affected by recent redundancies, I believe female-led businesses will be at the very heart of the UK's recovery."

In fact, new data published by freelancer body IPSE this week has highlighted the "disproportionate financial struggle" of female freelancers during the pandemic.

Late payment, in particular, has caused serious problems for female freelancers: 22% have not had enough money to cover basic living costs, compared to 11% of male freelancers. They are also more likely than men to have had no money to cover work-related expenses (23% compared to 15%). Female freelancers are also more likely to have had to borrow money from family and friends (19% compared to 8%).

Even so, IPSE also reveals that the number of self-employed women actually dropped less than men during the pandemic, with a 1% fall among women compared to 7% among self-employed men.

Small Business Britain's f:Entrepreneur campaign - commissioned to mark International Women's Day - has called for more support to unlock the opportunity of female-led businesses and provide greater recognition of this group's contribution to communities and the economy.

The f:Entrepreneur campaign was launched in 2017 to highlight inspiring female entrepreneurs that lead small businesses alongside other roles, such as volunteering, mentoring and community support. This year it received a record number of applications from women to be part of its annual #ialso100 campaign, which showcases amazing female entrepreneurs from all over the UK.

Small business minister Paul Scully said: "Supporting women entrepreneurs is essential as we build back fairer from the pandemic, levelling the playing field for people from all backgrounds in business and ensuring that Britain's economy flourishes."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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