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Almost one fifth of women are considering starting their own business, in a sign of a potential fresh wave of female-led start-ups that could help power the UK’s economic recovery.
Small Business Britain’s f:Entrepreneur campaign - which commissioned the research to mark International Women’s Day - has called for more support to unlock the opportunity of female-led businesses and greater recognition of this group’s powerful contribution to society, the economy and communities.
And the research found that two fifths of women (42%) were motivated to think about starting a business out of a passion - by far the biggest reason cited.
But the trend is also being driven by the impact of Covid-19 on the economy and jobs. Over a third (34%) of women are considering supplementing their income through a ‘side hustle’, whilst 10% were prompted by a job loss.
Reconsidering current employment as a result of the pandemic was also cited as a key factor by 17% of women, whilst 14% said they have been inspired to contribute to society.
“This research underlines that female entrepreneurship continues to grow and flourish in the UK,” said Michelle Ovens, founder of Small Business Britain and f:Entrepreneur.
“While 2021 will of course continue to be tough for small businesses, there are huge opportunities out there for women to grow and start their businesses. We saw a wave of start-up activity after the last recession, and with other figures sadly showing that women have been particularly affected by recent redundancies, I believe female-led businesses will be at the very heart of the UK’s recovery.
"We need to continue, and increase, our support for these incredible women and celebrate their amazing strength and success in the face of huge challenges.”
The f:Entrepreneur campaign was launched in 2017 to highlight inspiring female entrepreneurs that lead small businesses alongside a roster of other roles, such as volunteering, mentoring and community support.
This year it received a record number of applications from women to be part of its annual #ialso100 campaign, which showcases amazing female entrepreneurs from all over the UK, such as Susan Bonner, who founded The British Craft House in 2019.
“I started my business out of a passion for crafting and wanting to have the freedom to be more in control of my own destiny,” said Bonner.
“I now have almost 500 sellers on my website since I started out in 2019 and the support they offer each other is inspiring and refreshing to see. While the pandemic has been a tough time to be in business, I’ve learned so much about being resilient and by pivoting some areas have actually managed to grow a bit.
Bonner wants more women to take start a business, claiming there is a powerful network in place to advise and support these new ventures.
"Research tells us that role models are hugely powerful in empowering women to start and grow their own businesses, meaning it’s incredibly important that the stories of the inspirational women running brilliant businesses are told and shared," said Tide's Liza Haskell, which sponsors the f:Entrepreneur campaign.
“Tide is dedicated to championing small businesses and as part of this mission we have committed to supporting 100,000 women starting out in business by the end of 2023."
Small Business minister Paul Scully added: “Supporting women entrepreneurs is essential as we build back fairer from the pandemic, levelling the playing field for people from all backgrounds in business and ensuring that Britain’s economy flourishes.”
“We have set the ambition of increasing the number of women entrepreneurs by half by 2030 and we are proudly backing the female business leaders of tomorrow.”