As we mark International Women’s Day today, it’s a great time to celebrate news that women founded more than 150,000 new companies last year despite a more challenging economic environment. The resilience of female entrepreneurs is underlined by data which shows that female founders started more firms in 2022 than ever before. The figures have been published in the Rose Review Progress Report 2023, which sets fresh goals to provide record levels of support for female entrepreneurs and drive up the numbers of female angel investors.
The Report illustrates the advances made since the Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship was launched in 2019. More than twice as many companies led by women were created last year as in 2018.
However, the report sets out the importance of increasing the support available for female founders in the face of economic headwinds.
A total of 190 financial services institutions have now made formal commitments to improve female entrepreneurs’ chances of success by signing the Investing in Women Code, up from 134 in the previous year. New signatories include savings and investment company M&G, lender Funding Circle and technology venture capital firm IQ Capital. Backers of the Code represent over £1 trillion in assets under management. The code requires them to adopt best practices to benefit female entrepreneurs and share data on their performance with government.
The Rose Review announced that the aim is to provide female entrepreneurs with three million places on programmes and opportunities to access direct support over three years. Last year its partners created 800,000 opportunities to access schemes and support including networking events, mentorship and masterclasses.
The Rose Review is also committing to grow the pool of female angel investors from 14% to 30% of the total number of UK angels by 2030 through the work of the Women Angel Investment Taskforce, such as the Women Backing Women campaign. Work is underway across the country to support more women in offering early-stage investment.
A fifth of new incorporations last year were all-female led, a figure that has risen from 16% in 2018. The biggest leap in new female-led firms was among those established by 16-25-year-old founders, numbers of which rose by almost a quarter.
Alison Rose, CEO NatWest Group and author of the Rose Review, commented:
“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.
“In the coming year, we will continue to provide fresh initiatives offering mentorship, guidance and inspiration for founders, alongside securing new commitments from financial services institutions to make it easier for female-led companies to access vital capital. By listening closely to entrepreneurs and acting on what they tell us, we will provide backing to help them grow their networks, secure finance and achieve their goals.”
Small business minister Kevin Hollinrake said:
“It’s great news over 150,000 women started new businesses last year – more than ever before – and seeing the number of businesses started by 16 to 25-year-olds increase by a quarter reaffirms the UK as a place of opportunity for all.
“We’re backing entrepreneurs and innovators all the way with a range of support. Our Start Up Loans scheme recently granted its 100,000th loan with 40% of awards going to women, and our Help to Grow Management Scheme is providing business leaders with the skills they need to succeed.”