The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) used International Women’s Day on 8th March as the ideal launch date for its 100 FSB Women, a campaign featuring 100 exceptional FSB women who will act as ‘digital role models’ in a bid to boost the number of female entrepreneurs.
Currently, the UK has 5.7 million small businesses and self-employed people. However, the FSB’s research, published in their Women in Enterprise: The Untapped Potential report, discovered that that 2.7 million women in the UK want to open a business but aren’t making the move to do so. Helen Walbey, chair of FSB’s Women in Enterprise Taskforce, sees this as “a huge potential loss for the economy.”
“If we were to harness this untapped potential, it could potentially lead to an extra 340,000 businesses, support 425,000 new jobs and add £10.1 billion to the economy,” she says.
Breaking down the barriers
The FSB’s research looked into the reasons why these women are not forging ahead with their start-ups, and identified several barriers that women consistently face in business. Over 40% of female FSB members said their biggest challenge is balancing work and family life, and women are more likely to cite ’personal reasons’ when closing down their business. The report also identified a need for:
- a wider and more representative range of role models and mentors, which it estimated could encourage the launch of 1.2 million women-led start-ups
- improved access to alternative finance
- more tailored business support.
“Research shows that women are less likely than their male counterparts to know a person in business and, as a result, have fewer opportunities to benefit from exposure to others with business experience and are less likely to see people like themselves succeeding,” says Helen Walbey.
“If women set up businesses at the same rate as men, there would be a huge boost to growth and prosperity in the UK. Understanding the importance of diversity and getting more women into business is central to achieving a vibrant and innovative small business sector.”
To follow the campaign and join the conversation about women entrepreneurs and the barriers they face, use the hashtag #100FSBwomen.