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New research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) shows that although women-owned businesses contribute £105bn to the UK economy, female entrepreneurs are rare or on the decline in manufacturing and other high growth sectors.

The rise of female entrepreneurs

The new report, Supporting Women’s Enterprise in the UK: The Economic Case, shows that women entrepreneurs’ contribution to the UK economy has increased by 40% since comprehensive data was last collected and analysed. The £105bn they currently contribute equates to them contributing £36k Gross Value Add (GVA) for each person they employ (6.3% of total UK GVA).

The contribution women make to the UK economy is even more significant when the estimated GVA of women-led businesses is also included. The research shows that women-led and women-owned businesses are estimated to contribute £221bn representing 13.3% of total GVA.

There has also been a 26% increase in employment generated by women-owned businesses, and nearly a quarter of private sector employment (23.85%) is now generated by women-owned and women-led businesses.

When women-owned business contribution figures are broken down to nations, Northern Ireland (9.23% of GVA) leads the way followed by Wales (7.24% of GVA). Northern Ireland has also seen the biggest increase since 2012, with just under 4% increase in GVA.

Lack of female entrepreneurs in high profit sectors

However, despite these encouraging figures, it seems diversity in manufacturing and higher growth sectors is still a challenge, with a reduction in the proportion of women-owned firms in these sectors.

The FSB’s findings show that between 2012 – 2015, there was a reduction in the contribution of the manufacturing sector to women-owned businesses’ GVA (from 14.9% to 11%) and proportion of employment (from 8.7% to 7.1%). This is unfortunate, as manufacturing is a relatively high profit sector. A much larger proportion of women-owned businesses are in the low-profit care sector.

The report was launched at Facebook’s Community Boost event at London’s Millbank Tower. Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s VP EMEA, says that it’s unacceptable that our culture is still “hard-wired against women in leadership roles” and that ways must be found to give women who want to lead the skills and courage to succeed.

“Through our #SheMeansBusiness programme, which empowers thousands of entrepreneurial women by offering them training, tools and practical advice, we discovered that one of the main barriers holding women back is a lack of confidence and digital skills,” she said.

“Together with the Federation of Small Businesses, Enterprise Nation and AllBright, we’ve already trained 13,000 women in the UK this year, providing them with the tools, networks and know-how to start a business and to grow it.”

We have big ambitions for 2019 and I can’t stress enough how important it is to work together to achieve change.”

You can read the full FSB report here. What do you think of the #SheMeansBusiness programme? Would you like to see more representation of leading women in different sectors? Please share your thoughts below.

About The Author

Kara Copple

An experienced business and finance writer, sometimes moonlighting as a fiction writer and blogger.

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