Feature

The rise of female entrepreneurship has led to 1.6 million female-owned businesses in the UK.

That is a 148% increase since 1984 – the earliest data available – when there were 646,000. 

Over the same period, the number of self-employed men increased by 47% from around 2m to 3m, meaning there are still just under twice as many self-employed men as women – but the gap is closing.

New research from digital bank Tide suggests that around one-fifth of women have considered starting a business – although this is lower than the number of men who have looked into the prospect (29%).

Of those who have thought about starting their own business, the most common reason why they haven’t is a lack of savings or financial concerns, with women usually likely to start a business while either working part-time or after a career break, unlike men who usually start a business while working full-time and on much firmer financial footing.

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Edinburgh and South East Scotland takes the crown for the most female founders in the UK, with 35,000 female founders making up 39% of self-employed people who are female.

It is followed by the North of Tyne region, which includes Newcastle upon Tyne, and the West of England, which includes Bristol (both 34.7%).

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The health and social sector has the most self employed females, with 74% of self employed people in the industry being female.

This was followed by industries such as ‘households as employers’, which encompasses roles such as cleaners, babysitters and secretaries (69%) and other service activities, such as hairdressers and beauticians (66.8%).

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“It’s great to see how women have made huge strides in entrepreneurship in recent years, with more female-fronted businesses than ever before,” said Lize Haskell, chief administrative officer at Tide.

“Starting your own business and taking that first step into entrepreneurship can be daunting, but there is lots of support and initiatives out there to help empower you.”