Posted: Thu 16th Mar 2023
Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones has signed a joint letter to chancellor Jeremy Hunt with Mastercard, Digital Boost and Be the Business which outlines six recommendations for supporting female business owners.
Unlocking UK productivity and boosting growth by supporting female entrepreneurs
We were pleased to hear you speak about the importance of entrepreneurialism to the UK economy recently. Nowhere is the spirit of entrepreneurship more apparent than in the country's small and micro businesses, and it's encouraging to see that more women are setting up businesses than ever before.
But whether it's the cost of childcare, the lack of funding given to female founders, fewer role models or limited access to upskilling or supporting networks, if you’re a woman starting a business in the UK today, there are simply more barriers in your way.
There is a huge economic upside to supporting female entrepreneurs: The Rose Review found that £250bn of new value could be added to the UK economy if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men.
Organisations like Be the Business, Digital Boost and Enterprise Nation, with support from private sector organisations like Mastercard, are supporting hundreds of thousands of female entrepreneurs through programmes like Strive UK, with free access to training and targeted advice to tackle business challenges.
But we need a focussed effort from the public, private and third sectors, brought together through the convening power of government, to truly tackle the range of issues facing female founders in the UK.
On 9 March over 100 industry leaders from finance, technology and the entrepreneurial support system came together to come up with solutions.
We're calling on the government to support female entrepreneurs through six recommendations:
Encourage a much-needed increase venture capital investment in female and ethnic-minority founded businesses by:
Replicating the existing Enterprise Investment and Seed Enterprise Investment schemes for female and ethnic-minority led businesses, so that VC investors are incentivised to support their growth.
Taking the schemes out of the party-political system and making them permanent, to provide long-term security to founders and certainty to investors.
Create a new fund, co-funded by the private sector and led by the British Business Bank, to provide finance to female entrepreneurs who find it difficult to source investment below a particular threshold.
Launch a cross-governmental taskforce to look at childcare costs and maternity and caregiver leave for female entrepreneurs, as well as supporting small businesses across the country to support employees with parental leave. We encourage a specific focus on women from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Female-founded businesses who register with Companies House and HMRC should automatically receive information on accredited funding, banking and support services, such as how to access a start-up loan, where to go for free training on topics like social media marketing, and how to get free targeted business advice.
You can't improve what you don't measure, so the government should improve gaps in data by creating a national database on female-founded businesses, and those led by ethnic-minority founders, to identify the unique challenges they face.
Trade missions for female-founded businesses, including more digital trade missions to help female entrepreneurs, including females from ethnic minority backgrounds, trade around the world.
Only through effective partnerships between the government, private sector businesses, and third-sector partners can we truly level the playing field for female founders from all communities and backgrounds and unlock the full potential of the UK economy.
We'd be happy to share more information on these recommendations and introduce you to businesses who've benefitted from support through Strive UK.
Kelly Devine, president, UK&I, Mastercard
Emma Jones CBE, founder, Enterprise Nation
Karen Licurse, managing director, Digital Boost
Anthony Impey MBE, CEO, Be the Business
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