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Britain’s women-led businesses are beacons in gloomy economic times

Despite the market turbulence, women are launching more businesses in Britain than ever before. Female-led enterprises now represent a fifth of all companies, reports Robin Eveleigh at Positive News.

Female entrepreneurs founded more businesses than ever before in the UK last year, despite increasingly challenging economic circumstances.

The Alison Rose Review

In 2022, women launched 151,603 companies, more than twice the number in 2018, according to an independent review led by Alison Rose, chief executive of NatWest Group.

A fifth of all new incorporations were made by women entrepreneurs, with the biggest jump among 16-25-year-olds who launched 17,500 businesses – an increase of over 25 per cent. 

It’s a testament to the resilience and entrepreneurialism of female founders that they are creating more companies than ever before, and the Rose Review is expanding its support for their work. Across the UK our partners have provided more than 800,000 opportunities for female entrepreneurs to get the help they need to thrive.

Alison Rose, CEO NatWest Group and author of the Rose Review

Despite the marked progress, the review highlighted that men remain three times more likely to start a business than women. In terms of the UK economy, this represents a £250bn missed opportunity – new value that could be added if female founders started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men.

Sahar Hashemi, Founder, Buy Women Built

“Women make absolutely incredible entrepreneurs and yet we don’t have enough of them,” said Coffee Republic founder Sahar Hashemi, who launched Buy Women Built – a campaign to mobilise consumers to buy from female-led businesses – last month. “We need to have more visibility and more role models. If you can see someone else doing it, you’re much more likely to give it a try yourself.”

If you can see someone else doing it, you’re much more likely to give it a try yourself.

Sahar Hashemi

Women in the boardroom

The signs of progress for gender equality in business were amplified by a new report, which has found that the proportion of women in boardroom roles at some of Britain’s biggest firms has risen above 40 per cent for the first time, three years ahead of target.

A decade ago, 152 of the largest 350 firms listed on the London Stock Exchange had no female board members and were set a 2025 deadline to meet the 40 per cent target.

The FTSE Women Leaders Review co-chair Penny James called the result a truly defining moment. “We remember just how unattainable a 40 per cent target for FTSE 350 boards felt only a decade ago,” she said. “This success spurs us on to achieve even greater equality of opportunity in leadership teams across the spectrum of British businesses.”