Figures show the North West is a hotbed of female-founded scale-up businesses, but these companies are still at a disadvantage when it comes to funding and other growth support. Two Zero’s programme manager Amin Vepari shares his thoughts on closing the gap.
Are we doing enough to support our female-led fast growing businesses in Lancashire and across the UK?
The ScaleUp Institute’s Female Founder Index, released earlier this year, showed the number of visible female-led scale-ups in the UK was up almost 10 per cent on 2019. These 194 visible scale-ups employ 71,000 people and generate £9.9bn turnover for the UK economy.
The North West also has the highest number of female-led scale-ups outside London. With Lancashire’s companies including well-known names such as Laila’s Fine Foods and Danbro,– it’s clear this area values and supports its female-led high growth firms.
But while progress is being made in the UK’s support for female-led businesses, the question remains – are we doing enough?
The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship, published by Government in 2019, gave a clear picture of the UK business landscape:
“The disparity that exists between female and male entrepreneurs is unacceptable and holding the UK back.”
The review highlighted that women on average start a business with 53 per cent less funding than men, while just one per cent of all venture funding goes to businesses founded by all-female teams. Females receive less funding at every stage of their business.
Figures like this highlight the gap that still exists between male and female business owners. The UK economy is losing billions of pounds by not adequately funding female business growth ambitions and the blame for this funding gap cannot be placed solely at the door of lenders.
A key issue highlighted by the Rose Review is women not being aware of all of their funding options. In Lancashire, we have a range of networks and support options for women. They include Northern Power Women, Social Capital, Pink Link Ladies, the Enterprise Vision Awards as well as funding partners such as Natwest.
We all have a duty to ensure women are aware of the right support so they can share their ambitions and challenges, learn about new funding streams and collaborate with likeminded leaders.
It’s been heartening to see how our Two Zero: Female programme has continued through the challenges of the last few months. The programme has given these fast-growing businesses a place to share their ideas, concerns and ambitions as well as practical advice and coaching to remain resilient and scale their business in trying circumstances.
If we continue to support, encourage our female-led businesses and share their incredible stories so that others may be inspired, we can go some way to closing the gap that still exists across UK business.