Business development · 14 September 2016

Growth in female entrepreneurship provides biggest boost to North West

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Women entrepreneurs now account for 54 per cent of the self-employed workforce in the North West.

The rise of female entrepreneurship in the UK is experienced strongest in the North West of England, according to new research.

Women entrepreneurs now account for 54 per cent of the self-employed workforce in the region, according to the latest results of NatWest’s Regional Economic Tracker, which regularly monitors job growth across 11 UK regions.

The new data demonstrates somewhat of a transformation in the UK economy, as since 2008, the total number of self-employed women in the UK has risen by over 40 per cent.

Similar trends in female entrepreneurship are seen across the UK. In Wales, the growth rate for self-employment amongst women is almost four times as fast as men, rising by 28 per cent since 2008, according to tracker’s latest figures.

Commenting on the tracker’s new figures, senior NatWest economist Sebastian Burnside championed the rise in self-employment generally: “Entrepreneurs are making a fantastically important contribution to the UK labour market.

“There are now 4.6 million self-employed people in the UK, an increase of 800,000 since 2008, with women accounting for 433,000 of these new jobs.”

Tech giant Dell’s 2016 Women Entrepreneurs study found London ranked as the third best city in the world for female entrepreneurs to start a business – with funding opportunities and access to markets cited as key factors in creating a good operating environment.

A YouGov poll in June this year surveyed over 2,000 working adults in the UK, finding that throughout the country women were more likely than men to turn their passion into a business venture.

While this demonstrates a clear demand amongst women for entrepreneurialism, further research has suggested more action needs to be taken to ensure the correct support structures for women are in place.

In August this year, government innovation agency Innovate UK found that since 2013, just 14 per cent of applications for innovation funding have been from women, despite the success-rate between men and women in innovation projects remaining largely equal.

Innovate UK’s study concluded that female entrepreneurship in the UK is failing to reach its potential.

At the announcement of the Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) Women in Enterprise Taskforce in April, Helen Weleby, diversity policy head at the FSB, spoke of the barriers that women continue to face in entrepreneurship.

“Vocational education is one way to grow the next generation of women entrepreneurs, but they also need long term business support to help them succeed and grow,” she said.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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